In cooperation with the Universidade da Coruña, the University of Heidelberg investigates internal drug concentrations in zebrafish embryos.
For the analysis biological effects (e.g., changes in behavior) by pharmaceuticals in non-target species, internal drug concentrations are a key component. In laboratory experiments, the University of Heidelberg (Germany) exposed zebrafish embryos to selected pharmaceuticals such as venlafaxine and sertraline for up to 120 hours, documented all morphological effects and took samples of embryos and exposure medium for subsequent chemical analysis. The samples were sent to the Universidade da Coruña in Spain, where colleagues will extract and measure the chemicals taken up by fish with high performance liquid chromatography and electrospray ionization coupled to mass spectrometry of triple quadrupole (HPLC-ESI-MS-MS). For this end, fish and water extracts will be injected into the analytical HPLC-ESI-MS-MS machine, where the chemical components will be eluted for separation in chromatography. From the raw data, scientists can read out the exact amount of drug in each sample.