Research: microplastics can enter the brain

Most of the millions of tons of plastic waste that ends up in the sea breaks up into tiny fragments

- they are called microplastics. The authors of the new work decided to study how these tiny waste products affect the brain. Previously, they found that plastic waste acts as toxic substances.

In early studies, scientists have already found thatmicroplastics threaten a variety of marine life. For example, it impaired the cognitive ability of hermit crabs and also caused aneurysms and reproductive changes in fish. The smallest particles of plastic were found in the intestines of sea turtles, in seal excrement, and they can also change the shape of human lung cells.

The authors of the new work decided to study howmicroplastics affect the functioning of the nervous system, therefore, microplastics made of polystyrene were orally administered to mice for seven days. Like humans, mice have a blood-brain barrier that prevents most foreign particles, and especially hard particles, from entering their organs, but scientists have found that microplastics were able to overcome it.

When particles enter the brain, they accumulatein the cells of microglia, the latter are engaged in maintaining the efficiency of the central nervous system. Microplastics negatively impacted their cell's ability to multiply. This was due to the fact that microglial cells perceived plastic particles as a threat, and this situation provoked changes in their morphology. As a result, microplastics led to apoptosis or programmed cell death.

Research shows that microplastics, especially those that are 2 micrometers or less, begin to accumulate in the brain even after being ingested for a short time for seven days.

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