Hazard assessment of different-sized polystyrene nanoplastics in hematopoietic human cell lines

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6 Citations (Scopus)


The environmental presence of micro/nanoplastics (MNPLs) is an environmental and human health concern. Such MNPLs can result from the physicochemical/biological degradation of plastic goods (secondary MNPLs) or can result from industrial production at that size, for different commercial purposes (primary MNPLs). Independently of their origin, the toxicological profile of MNPLs can be modulated by their size, as well as by the ability of cells/organisms to internalize them. To get more information on these topics we have determined the ability of three different sizes of polystyrene MNPLs (50, 200, and 500 nm) to produce different biological effects in three different human hematopoietic cell lines (Raji-B, THP-1, and TK6). Results show that none of the three sizes was able to induce toxicity (growth ability) in any of the tested cell types. Although transmission electron microscopy and confocal images showed cell internalization in all the cases, their quantification by flow cytometry demonstrated an important uptake by Raji-B and THP-1 cells, in comparison with TK6 cells. For the first ones, the uptake was negatively associated with the size. Interestingly, when the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential was determined, dose-related effects were observed for Raji-B and THP-1 cells, but not for TK6 cells. These effects were observed for the three different sizes. Finally, when oxidative stress induction was evaluated, no clear effects were observed for the different tested combinations. Our conclusion is that size, biological endpoint, and cell type are aspects modulating the toxicological profile of MNPLs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number138360
Number of pages10
Early online date10 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Mitochondrial membrane potential
  • Oxidative stress
  • Polystyrene nanoplastic size
  • Raji-B/THP-1/TK6 cells
  • Uptake


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