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Synthetic fluoroquinolones (FQs) are the third most commonly used antibiotics in the world and play an extremely important role in antibacterial drugs. The excessive use and discharge will alter ecological environment, with consequence on human health and global sustainable development. It is therefore of great significance for scientific use and management of FQs to systematically understand their biogeochemical behavior and eco-environmental effects. After drug administration in humans and animals, only a small part of FQs are transformed in vivo. The main transformation processes include formylation, acetylation, oxidation and cleavage of piperazine ring, defluorination and decarboxylation of aromatic core ring, etc. About 70% of the original drug and a small amount of transformed products would be migrated to the environment through excretion. After entering the environment, FQs and their transformation products mainly exist in environmental media such as water, soil and sediment, and undergo migration and transformation processes such as adsorption, photolysis and biodegradation. Adsorption facilitates transfer of FQs from medium to another. The photolysis mainly affects the C7-amine substituents of FQs, whereas the core structure of FQs remains intact. Biodegradation mainly refers to the degradation of FQs by microorganisms and microalgae, including piperazine modification of the piperazine ring such as acetylation and formylation, partial or complete ring cleavage, core structure decarboxylation, defluorination and conjugation formation. The migration and transformation processes of FQs cannot completely eliminate them from the environment. Instead, they would become "pseudo-persistent" pollutants, which seriously affect the behavior, growth and reproduction of algae, crustaceans and fish, change biogeochemical cycle, destroy aquatic environment, and stimulate microbial resistance and the generation of resistance genes. In the future, more in-depth studies should be conducted on the environmental behavior of FQs and their impacts on ecological environment, the risk assessment of microbial resistance and resistance genes of FQs, and the mechanism and effect of micro-biodegradation of FQs.


Li-Lian Wen, Jin-Ming Song, Xue-Gang Li, Jun Ma, Jia-Jia Dai, Hua-Mao Yuan, Li-Qin Duan, Qi-Dong Wang. Biogeochemical behavior and ecological environmental effects of fluoroquinolones. Ying yong sheng tai xue bao = The journal of applied ecology. 2023 Jun;34(6):1680-1692

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PMID: 37694431

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