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Is heart rate in fish a sensitive indicator to evaluate acute effects of β-blockers in surface water?

Journal article
Authors D. G. Joakim Larsson
Stina Fredriksson
Erik Sandblom
N. Paxeus
Michael Axelsson
Published in Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology
Volume 22
Pages 338-40
Publication year 2006
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Physiology
Department of Zoology
Pages 338-40
Language en
Keywords Keywords: β-Blockers; Environmental risk assessment; Heart rate; Fish
Subject categories Chemical Sciences, Microbiology, Medical and Health Sciences


We have investigated if propranolol, a non-selective β-blocker present in sewage effluents, affects heart rate in rainbow trout. During a 48 h exposure to a very high concentration of propranolol (70.9 μg/L) no effects on heart rate were found. After a subsequent intravenous injection of propranolol, heart rate remained unaffected in pre-exposed fish but was significantly lowered in naïve fish. Other studies have reported effects on the reproduction of fish by propranolol dissolved in water at much lower concentrations. The present study suggests that physiological systems under homeostatic control, like heart rate, may not be particularly sensitive despite being direct targets.

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