Fluoroquinolones are broad-spectrum antibiotics that accumulate in the environment. To assess human exposure through the food chain, we developed a pharmacokinetic model of fluoroquinolone accumulation in fish and a human pharmacokinetic model to predict gastrointestinal concentrations of ciprofloxacin, a common fluoroquinolone, following consumption of fish. At 70 ng/L ciprofloxacin, the average in North American surface waters, the fish steady-state concentration was calculated to be 7.5 × 10−6 µg/g. Upon human consumption of the FDA-recommended portion of 113 g of fish containing this ciprofloxacin level, the predicted human intestinal concentration was 2 × 10−6 µg/mL. At 4 × 106 ng/L (4 µg/mL) ciprofloxacin, the highest recorded environmental measurement, these numbers were 0.42 µg/g in fish and 0.1 µg/mL in the human intestine. Thus, based on the ciprofloxacin MIC for E. coli of 0.13 µg/mL, background environmental ciprofloxacin levels are unlikely to be problematic, but environmental pollution can result in high intestinal levels that may cause gut dysbiosis and antibiotic resistance.
By Oguz Kaan Kum, Karen M. Chan, Noam Morningstar-Kywi, J. Andrew MacKay, Ian S. Haworth