Fish exposed to the antidepressant drug prosecute pass on altered behavior to the next three generations, raising questions about what might happen to children whose mothers take the drug.
At the University of Ottawa, researchers from Vantaea and Marilin Vera-Chang exposed fish eggs and neo-hatched fish to test the levels typical of the human placenta and reach an embryo.
Drudah and others have studied side effects of these drugs in fish for years, concentrating on potential effects on reproduction.
He and Vera-Chang say they feel the next step should be to look at changes in the reproductive systems of the next generation of fish – seeds of fish exposed to Prozac. Both researchers learn the effects of hormones on the brain.
But the effects they found are a whole new type: they are a change in fish behavior.
"They are very busy and their response is weird," Trudeau said in an interview.
Many fish species have a way of exploring unfamiliar environment, such as a new tank. They swim up, down and all around, adjusted to the new home. In the wild, nature helps them figure out when they should go in search of food and when they should hide.
But fish that are exposed to Prozac when they are still in the egg did not explore how much. They swam to the bottom of the tank and mostly stopped there.
"The kind of exploratory behaviors are super-important in all the verbiabetes, which is a kind of capping nature" in which an animal learns how to deal with its environment, TroDau said.
While the experiment only examined Prosak, Tudewa said he would expect similar results from other members of his class of antidepressants, all aimed at a brain chemo called serotonin.
"What we found is that it (the change) is for two generations," he said. He suspects an "epigenetic" effect in which the children and grandchildren of the fish have normal genes, but the genes are made to steer their activity on and off in an unusual pattern.
"We call transgenational effect."
Levels of pressure hormone called cortisol are also unusual; They are lower than they should be.
While the experiments so far used a common laboratory called Zebra Fish, he says there is a bigger question about effects on humans.
"We are in use now 1.5 times by Floxoxetine (Prozac), which came on the market in 1987."
Trudau said he would "absolutely not" advise people who take this or other antidepressants to stop.
"There are also great benefits to the types of drugs, in fact, they may be in some situations, but it is important to follow a doctor's advice and take the prescribed dose, and the future discussion should take into account that such medication Have more and more effects as we have ever imagined, as our work clearly shows that what we do today can imitate future generations, "he said.
There are some evidence that children of women who take the drug during pregnancy have low cortisol and are "a bit more tamed" than other children.
"What was known, and our bigger question was: Does it go away, what about their kids? … What are the implications for humans?"
He said other antidepressants probably also have lasting effects, but his experiment used only Prasac.
More: How can these drugs affect my children or change?
For Vera-Chang, the work was the cause of her PhD study. She spent three years working with approximately 6,000 Zebra fish, even coming in the lab on Christmas to feed them and keep their tanks in good order.
"It was a really challenging study," she said. "The variables have to be consistent generation after generation" to make sure that no results are caused by the drug and not by changes in the food, temperature or water, or even the person who has the feeding.
"A short dose can actually affect generations to come – six days early in life," she said.
Their paper is published this week in PNAS, one of the world's three top-ranking scientific journals.
Outside the lab, Prasac affects wildlife because it comes in lakes and rivers, said Treudau. The active chemicals remain stable even when the body flushes them out in urine, and sewage treatment plants do not remove pharmaceuticals.
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