Recently, the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in the aquaculture sector has raised public concern because of possible toxic effects, development of bacterial resistance, and accumulation of residues in individual tissues. Even if several countries have developed regulations about their use, it is clear that long-term growth of the aquaculture industry requires both ecologically sound practices and sustainable resource management. Alternative strategies for better management of antibiotic administration are of primary interest to improve absorption rates and, as a consequence, to reduce their release into the aquatic environment. The present study investigates, for the first time to our knowledge, a new methodology for oxytetracycline (OTC) administration through the use of iron oxide nanoparticles (NPs) (made of maghemite γ-Fe2O3) in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Fish were divided into 4 experimental groups: Control; group A exposed to 4 mg/L OTC (through water); group B exposed to the 100 mg/L SAMNs@OTC complex (equivalent to 4 mg/L OTC), and group C exposed to bare NPs. No detoxification processes or anatomical alterations were observed in fish exposed to bare NPs. Exposure of fish to the SAMNs@OTC complex resulted in a 10 times higher OTC accumulation with respect to using water exposure. This new OTC administration method seems much more efficient with respect to the traditional way of exposure and has the potentiality to reduce antibiotic utilization and possible environmental impacts. However, the dynamics related to OTC release from the SAMNs@OTC complex are still not clear and need further investigations.
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