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Neurotoxicology And Teratology


There is a lack of data on the effects of chronic exposure to common drugs and stimulants on the developing nervous system. Freshwater planarians have emerged as a useful invertebrate model amenable to high-throughput behavioral phenotyping to assay chemical safety in adult and developing brains. Here, we leverage the unique strength of the system to test in parallel for effects on the adult and developing nervous system, by screening ten common drugs and stimulants (forskolin, clenbuterol, LRE-1, MDL-12,330A, adenosine, caffeine, histamine, mianserin, fluoxetine and sertraline) using the asexual freshwater planarian Dugesia japonica. The compounds were tested up to 100 μM nominal concentration for their effects on planarian morphology and behavior. Quantitative phenotypic assessments were performed on days 7 and 12 of exposure using an automated screening platform. The antidepressants sertraline and fluoxetine were the most potent to induce lethality, with significant lethality observed at 10 μM. All ten compounds caused sublethal morphological and/or behavioral effects, with the most effects, in terms of potency and breadth of endpoints affected, seen with mianserin and fluoxetine. Four of the compounds (forskolin, clenbuterol, mianserin, and fluoxetine) were developmentally selective, causing effects at lower concentrations in regenerating planarians. Of these, fluoxetine showed the greatest differences between the two developmental stages, inducing many behavioral endpoints in regenerating planarians but only a few in adult planarians. While some of these behavioral effects may be due to neuroefficacy, these results substantiate the need for better evaluation of the safety of these common drugs on the developing nervous system.


Drugs, Fluoxetine, Mianserin, Behavior, Brain development, Planarian


This work is a preprint that is freely available courtesy of Elsevier.

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