Harmful effects of true-to-life nanoplastics derived from PET water bottles in human alveolar macrophages

Alireza Tavakolpournegari, Aliro Villacorta, Michelle Morataya-Reyes, Jéssica Arribas Arranz, Gooya Banaei, Susana Pastor, Antonia Velázquez, Ricard Marcos, Alba Hernández, Balasubramanyam Annangi

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The increasing presence of secondary micro/nanoplastics (MNPLs) in the environment requires knowing if they represent a real health concern. To such end, an important point is to test representative MNPLs such as the denominated true-to-life MNPLs, resulting from the degradation of plastic goods in lab conditions. In this study, we have used polyethylene terephthalate (PET) NPLs resulting from the degradation of PET water bottles. Since inhalation is an important exposure route to environmental MNPLS, we have used mouse alveolar macrophages (MH-S) as a target cell, and the study focused only on the cells that have internalized them. This type of approach is novel as it may capture the realistic adverse effects of PETNPLs only in the internalized cells, thereby mitigating any biases while assessing the risk of these MNPLs. Furthermore, the study utilized a set of biomarkers including intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, variations on the mitochondrial membrane potential values, and the macrophage polarization to M1 (pro-inflammatory response) and M2 (anti-proinflammatory response) as possible cellular effects due to PETNPLs in only the cells that internalized PETNPLs. After exposures lasting for 3 and 24 h to a range of concentrations (0, 25, 50, and 100 μg/mL) the results indicate that no toxicity was induced despite the 100% internalization observed at the highest concentration. Significant intracellular levels of ROS were observed, mainly at exposures lasting for 24 h, in an indirect concentration-effect relationship. Interestingly, a reduction in the mitochondrial membrane potential was observed, but only at exposures lasting for 24 h, but without a clear concentration-effect relationship. Finally, PETNPL exposure shows a significant polarization from M0 to M1 and M2 subtypes. Polarization to M1 (pro-inflammatory stage) was more marked and occurred at both exposure times. Polarization to M2 (anti-inflammatory stage) was only observed after exposures lasting for 24 h. Due to the relevance of the described biomarkers, our results underscore the need for further research, to better understand the health implications associated with MNPL exposure.

Idioma originalEnglish
Número d’article123823
RevistaEnvironmental Pollution
Data online anticipada19 de març 2024
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - 1 de maig 2024


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