Polycarbonate and polystyrene nanoplastic particles act as stressors to the innate immune system of fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas)

Water pollution with large and small-scale plastic litter is an area of growing concern. Macro plastic litter is a well-known threat to aquatic wildlife; however, effects of micro and nano-sized plastic particles on the health of organisms are not well understood. Small scale plastic particles can easily be ingested by various aquatic organisms and potentially interfere with their immune system, therefore we used a freshwater fish species as a model organism for nanoplastic exposure. Characterization of polystyrene and polycarbonate nanoplastic (PS: 41.0 nm, PC: 158.7 nm) particles (PSNP and PCNP, respectively) in plasma was performed, and effects of PSNP and PCNP on the innate immune system of fathead minnow, were investigated. In vitro effects of PSNP and PCNP on neutrophil function were determined using a battery of neutrophil function assays. Exposure of neutrophils to PSNP or PCNP caused significant increase in degranulation of primary granules and neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) release compared to a non-treated control, while oxidative burst was less affected, This study outlines the stress response of the cellular component of fish innate immune system to polystyrene and polycarbonate nanoparticles/aggregates and indicates their potential to interfere with disease resistance in fish populations.

Greven, A.-C., Merk, T., Karagöz, F., Mohr, K., Klapper, M., Jovanović, B. and Palić, D., Environ Toxicol Chem., Volume 35, Issue 12, December 2016, Pages 3093–3100

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