As a widespread and ubiquitous pollutant of marine ecosystems, microplastic has the potential to become an emerging global threat for aquatic organisms. The present study aims to elucidate the effects of microplastics on the growth, accumulation and oxidative stress response in the liver of Eriocheir sinensis. Fluorescent microplastic particles (diameter = 0.5 μm) accumulated in the gill, liver and gut tissues of E. sinensis were investigated when crabs were exposed to a concentration of 40000 μg/L for 7 days. A 21 day toxicity test suggested that the rate of weight gain, specific growth rate, and hepatosomatic index of E. sinensis decreased with increasing microplastic concentration (0 μg/L, 40 μg/L, 400 μg/L, 4000 μg/L and 40000 μg/L). The activities of AChE and GPT in crabs exposed to microplastics were lower than those in control group. GOT activity increased significantly after exposure to a low concentration of microplastics and then decreased continuously with increasing microplastic concentrations. The activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), aspartate transaminase (GOT), glutathione (GSH), and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) increased in specimens exposed to low concentrations of microplastics (40 and 400 μg/L) compared to the control and decreased in organisms exposed to high concentrations (4000 and 40000 μg/L). In contrast, the activities of acetylcholinesterase, catalase (CAT), and alanine aminotransferase were significantly lower in the organisms exposed to microplastics compared to control animals. Upon exposure to increasing microplastic concentrations, the expression of genes encoding the antioxidants SOD, CAT, GPx and glutathione S-transferase in the liver decreased after first increasing. Exposure to microplastics increased the expression of the gene encoding p38 in the MAPK signaling pathway and significantly decreased the expressions of genes encoding ERK, AKT, and MEK. The results of this study demonstrate that microplastics can accumulate in the tissues of E. sinensis and negatively affect growth. In addition, exposure to microplastics causes damage and induces oxidative stress in the hepatopancreas of E. sinensis. The findings provide basic biological data for environmental and human risk assessments of microplastics of high concern.
P. Yu, Z. Liu, D. Wu and al., Aquatic Toxicology, Volume 200, July 2018, Pages 28-36