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Coexposure to sulfamethoxazole and cadmium impairs development and attenuates transcriptional response in sea urchin embryo

  • Authors: Ragusa, M.; Costa, S.; Cuttitta, A.; Gianguzza, F.; Nicosia, A.
  • Publication year: 2017
  • Type: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
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Among sulfonamides, sulfamethoxazole represents one of the most widely employed. A considerable amount of sulfamethoxazole is introduced into the marine environment after utilization in aquaculture. The cytotoxicity of sulfamethoxazole relies mainly on arylhydroxylamine metabolites and it is associated with the production of reactive oxygen species. Cadmium represents a metal largely employed in several anthropic activities and it is toxic for all living organisms even at low concentrations. Since it is not degraded, cadmium irreversibly accumulates into cells. In order to understand the mechanisms of response to changes in the chemical environment, we investigated by light microscopy observations and RT-qPCR assays the impact of sulfamethoxazole and cadmium in P. lividus sea urchin embryos. During development, embryos were exposed to sulfamethoxazole amount comparable to that usually used in aquaculture procedures and/or sublethal levels of cadmium chloride. Impairment of development and biomarkers for inflammation, detoxification, metal scavenging and cell death were inspected. Even though treatment with sulfamethoxazole apparently did not affect development, it stimulated a remarkable molecular response to oxidative stress. Moreover, combined exposure seriously compromised development and the defense mechanisms to cadmium were blocked. This study leads to the conclusion that coexposure to sulfamethoxazole and cadmium induces neutralizing effects on sea urchin embryos. Thus, in marine areas nearby aquaculture farms, where sulfamethoxazole discharge represents an important environmental contaminant, cadmium occurrence may alter population dynamics of P. lividus.