Exposure to the antineoplastic ifosfamide alters molecular pathways related to cardiovascular function, increases heart rate, and induces hyperactivity in zebrafish (Danio rerio)

Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2024 Apr:107:104427. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2024.104427. Epub 2024 Mar 23.


Ifosfamide is an alkylating antineoplastic drug used in chemotherapy, but it is also detected in wastewater. Here, the objectives were to (1) determine teratogenic, cardiotoxic, and mitochondrial toxicity potential of ifosfamide exposure; (2) elucidate mechanisms of toxicity; (3) characterize exposure effects on larval behavior. Survival rate, hatch rate, and morphological deformity incidence were not different amongst treatments following exposure levels up to 1000 µg/L ifosfamide over 7 days. RNA-seq reveled 231 and 93 differentially expressed transcripts in larvae exposed to 1 µg/L and 100 µg/L ifosfamide, respectively. Several gene networks related to vascular resistance, cardiovascular response, and heart rate were affected, consistent with tachycardia observed in exposed embryonic fish. Hyperactivity in larval zebrafish was observed with ifosfamide exposure, potentially associated with dopamine-related gene networks. This study improves ecological risk assessment of antineoplastics by elucidating molecular mechanisms related to ifosfamide toxicity, and to alkylating agents in general.

Keywords: Anxiety assays; Cancer; Cardiovascular function; Heart rate; Locomotor activity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents* / pharmacology
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Heart Rate
  • Ifosfamide / metabolism
  • Ifosfamide / toxicity
  • Larva
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical* / metabolism
  • Zebrafish / metabolism


  • Ifosfamide
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical