Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Present in the aquatic environment, unclear evidence in top predators : the unknown effects of anti-seizure medication on Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) from northern Germany

Emerging contaminants are produced globally at high rates and often ultimately find their way into the aquatic environment. These include substances contained in anti-seizure medication (ASM), which are currently appearing in surface waters at increasing concentrations in Germany. Unintentional and sublethal, chronic exposure to pharmaceuticals such as ASMs has unknown consequences for aquatic wildlife. Adverse effects of ASMs on the brain development are documented in mammals. Top predators such as Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) are susceptible to the bioaccumulation of environmental pollutants. Still little is known about the health status of the otter population in Germany, while the detection of various pollutants in otter tissue samples has highlighted their role as an indicator species. To investigate potential contamination with pharmaceuticals, Eurasian otter brain samples were screened for selected ASMs via high-performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. Via histology, brain sections were analyzed for the presence of potential associated neuropathological changes. In addition to 20 wild otters that were found dead, a control group of 5 deceased otters in human care was studied. Even though none of the targeted ASMs were detected in the otters, unidentified substances in many otter brains were measured. No obvious pathology was observed histologically, although the sample quality limited the investigations.

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