Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 6234–6243 | Cite as

Do Amazon turtles exposed to environmental concentrations of the antineoplastic drug cyclophosphamide present mutagenic damages? If so, would such damages be reversible?

  • Carlos Mesak
  • Mateus Flores Montalvão
  • Caroliny Fátima Chaves Paixão
  • Bruna de Oliveira Mendes
  • Amanda Pereira da Costa Araújo
  • Thales Chagas Quintão
  • Guilherme MalafaiaEmail author
Short Research and Discussion Article


Antineoplastic drugs (AD) have been increasingly used, but the disposal of their wastes in the environment via hospital effluent and domestic sewage has emerged as an environmental issue. The current risks posed to these animals and effects of pollutants on the reptiles’ population level remain unknown due to lack of studies on the topic. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the mutagenicity of neonate Podocnemis expansa exposed to environmental concentrations (EC) of cyclophosphamide (Cyc). The adopted doses were EC-I 0.2 μg/L and EC-II 0.5 μg/L Cyc. These doses correspond to 1/10 and ¼ of concentrations previously identified in hospital effluents. Turtles exposed to the CyC recorded larger total number of erythrocyte nuclear abnormalities than the ones in the control group after 48-h exposure. The total number of abnormalities for both groups (EC-I and EC-II) 96 h after the experiment had started was statistically similar to that of animals exposed to high Cyc concentration (positive control 5 × 104 μg/L). This outcome confirms the mutagenic potential of Cyc, even at low concentrations. On the other hand, when the animals were taken to a pollutant-free environment, their mutagenic damages disappeared after 240 h. After such period, their total of abnormalities matched the basal levels recorded for the control group. Therefore, our study is the first evidence of AD mutagenicity in reptiles, even at EC and short-term exposure, as well as of turtles’ recovery capability after the exposure to Cyc.


Reptilian Mutagenicity Hospital effluent Anticancer drugs 



Moreover, the authors are grateful to Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES, Brazil) and Fundação de Amaparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Goiás (FAPEG, Brazil) for granting the scholarship to the student who developed the current study.

Funding information

This work is financially supported by the Brazilian National Council for Research (CNPq) (Brazilian research agency) (Proc. No. 467801/2014-2) and the Instituto Federal Goiano (Proc. No. 23219.000337/2018-11).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical issues

The research was approved by the Biodiversity Authorization and Information System (SISBIO/IBAMA), under no. 61531/2017. Our study complied with all local, state, and national regulations. Meticulous efforts were made to assure that animals were subjected to the least suffering possible, as well as to reduce external stress, pain, and discomfort sources.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos Mesak
    • 1
  • Mateus Flores Montalvão
    • 1
  • Caroliny Fátima Chaves Paixão
    • 1
  • Bruna de Oliveira Mendes
    • 1
  • Amanda Pereira da Costa Araújo
    • 1
  • Thales Chagas Quintão
    • 2
  • Guilherme Malafaia
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Biological Research Laboratory, Post-Graduation Program in Conservation of Cerrado Natural ResourcesGoiano Federal Institute – Urutaí CampusUrutaíBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratório de Pesquisas BiológicasInstituto Federal Goiano – Campus UrutaíUrutaíBrazil

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