The presence of antibiotics including norfloxacin in the aquatic environment may cause adverse effects in non-target organisms. But the toxic mechanisms of fluoroquinolone to fish species are still not completely elucidated. Thus, it is essential to investigate the response of fish to the exposure of fluoroquinolone at molecular or cellular level for better and earlier prediction of these environmental pollutants toxicity. The sub-chronic toxic effects of norfloxacin (NOR) on swordtail fish (Xiphophoru s helleri) were investigated by measuring mRNA expression of cytochrome P450 1A (CYP1A), cytochrome P450 3A (CYP3A), glutathione S-transferase (GST) and P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and their corresponding enzyme activities (including ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase, erythromycin N-demethylase and GST. Results showed that NOR significantly affected the expression of CYP1A, CYP3A, GST and P-gp genes in swordtails. The gene expressions were more responsive to NOR exposure than their corresponding enzyme activities. Moreover, sexual differences were found in gene expression and enzyme activities of swordtails exposed to NOR. Females displayed more dramatic changes than males. The study further demonstrated that the combined biochemical and molecular parameters were considered as useful biomarkers to improve our understanding of potential ecotoxicological risks of NOR exposure to aquatic organisms.
Keywords: Enzyme activity; Gene expression; Norfloxacin; Sub-chronic toxicity; Swordtail fish (Xiphophorus helleri).