Cytotoxicity assessment of four pharmaceutical compounds on the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) haemocytes, gill and digestive gland primary cell cultures

Marco Parolini, Brian Quinn, Andrea Binelli, Alfredo Provini

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55 Citations (Scopus)


Pharmaceutical compounds are considered the new environmental pollutants but at present few studies have evaluated their ecotoxicity on aquatic invertebrates. This study was aimed to investigate the in vitro cytotoxicity of four common drugs, namely atenolol (ATL), carbamazepine (CBZ), diclofenac (DCF) and gemfibrozil (GEM), on three different cell typologies from the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha): haemocytes, gill and digestive gland cells. Results obtained by the Trypan blue exclusion test revealed that exposure to increasing concentrations (0.001; 0.01; 0.1; 1 and 10 mg L-1) of CBZ, DCF and GEM were able to significantly decrease the viability of each cell type, while the MTT (3(4,5-dimethyl-2thiazholyl)-2,5-diphenyl-2H-tetrazolium bromide) reduction assay highlighted only a slight reduction of mitochondrial activity of gill and digestive gland cells. Overall, DCF was the most cytotoxic drug for zebra mussel cells, followed by GEM, CBZ, while ATL has not a noteworthy toxic potential. Our preliminary results lay the groundwork for further in vitro evaluations, which will allow a better definition of the potential toxicity of these drugs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-100
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • In vitro
  • Zebra mussel
  • Cytotoxicity
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Mussel
  • Pollution
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Bioassay

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