Microplastics (MPs) are thought to be ingested by a wide range of marine organisms before being excreted. However, several studies in marine organisms from different taxa have shown that MPs and nanoplastics could be translocated in other organs. In this study, we investigated the presence of MPs in the livers of commercial zooplanktivorous fishes collected in the field. The study focuses mainly on the European anchovy Engraulis encrasicolus but concerns also the European pilchard Sardina pilchardus and the Atlantic herring Clupea harengus. Two complementary methodologies were used to attest the occurrence of MPs in the hepatic tissue and to exclude contamination. 1) MPs were isolated by degradation of the hepatic tissue. 2) Cryosections were made on the livers and observed in polarized light microscopy. Both methods separately revealed that MPs, mainly polyethylene (PE), were translocated into the livers of the three clupeid species. In anchovy, 80 per cent of livers contained relatively large MPs that ranged from 124 μm to 438 μm, showing a high level of contamination. Two translocation pathways are hypothesized: (i) large particles found in the liver resulted from the agglomeration of smaller pieces, and/or (ii) they simply pass through the intestinal barrier. Further studies are however required to understand the exact process.
France Collard, Bernard Gilbert, Philippe Compere, Gauthier Eppe, Krishna Das,
Thierry Jauniaux, Eric Parmentier, Environmental Pollution, Volume 229, October 2017, Pages 1000-1005