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Sublethal effects induced by morphine to the freshwater biological model Dreissena polymorpha



Opioids are considered as emerging contaminants in aquatic ecosystems, mainly due to their large illicit consume worldwide. Morphine (MOR) is the main opiate and it was commonly found at measurable concentrations in freshwaters. Even though its occurrence is well documented, just limited information is available regarding its hazard to nontarget organisms. The aim of this study was of the evaluation of sublethal effects induced by MOR to the freshwater bivalve Dreissena polymorpha. We exposed mussels to two MOR concentrations (0.05 µg/L and 0.5 µg/L) for 14 days and we investigated the sublethal effects by a suite of biomarkers. The Neutral Red Retention Assay (NRRA) was used as a test of cytotoxicity, while the oxidative stress was evaluated by the activity of antioxidant and detoxifying enzymes, namely catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and glutathione-S-transferase (GST), and by measuring the levels of lipid peroxidation (LPO) and protein carbonylation (PCC). The genetic damage was assessed by the Single Cell Gel Electrophoresis (SCGE) assay, the DNA diffusion assay and the micronucleus test (MN test). Finally, the filtration rate of D. polymorpha was evaluated in order to investigate possible physiological effects. Both tested concentrations reduced the lysosome membrane stability of bivalves, but only the highest MOR concentration induced significant changes in the activity of antioxidant enzymes (SOD, CAT, and GPx) and increase in lipid peroxidation levels. Slight increase in primary DNA fragmentation was noticed, while no fixed genetic damage and alterations of the filtering rate were found. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 31: 58–67, 2016.