Waterborne microplastics grow bio-coatings to sneak into living cells


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Microplastics are starting to turn up in all kinds of places, from the heights of Mount Everest, to the sea ice in the Antarctic, to the organs and tissues of the human body. In an effort to better understand how these tiny fragments of plastic are absorbed by organisms in aquatic environments, scientists have carried out a study that shows how a coating of biomolecules can act as a "Trojan horse" that sneaks them into living cells.

Researchers are beginning to shine a light on just how widespread microplastic pollution is, and how it can affect living organisms. These tiny pieces of plastic measure less than 5 mm in size and are therefore very difficult to trace through the environment, though recent studies have found them in sea turtles, sea bass and crustaceans. One study on Japanese medaka fish demonstrated how microplastics can cause aneurysms, as well as reproductive changes.

more at link.....................

the paper:


Environmental exposure enhances the internalization of microplastic particles into cells:

Microplastic particles ubiquitously found in the environment are ingested by a huge variety of organisms. Subsequently, microplastic particles can translocate from the gastrointestinal tract into the tissues likely by cellular internalization. The reason for cellular internalization is unknown, since this has only been shown for specifically surface-functionalized particles. We show that environmentally exposed microplastic particles were internalized significantly more often than pristine microplastic particles into macrophages. We identified biomolecules forming an eco-corona on the surface of microplastic particles, suggesting that environmental exposure promotes the cellular internalization of microplastics. Our findings further indicate that cellular internalization is a key route by which microplastic particles translocate into tissues, where they may cause toxicological effects that have implications for the environment and human health.
Should that read 5 nm (nanometers)?
Found this..................

Plastics consist of a variety of synthetic organic polymers and additives, giving each plastic product its unique properties.[viii] Plastic is generally split into two categories: micro- and macro-plastics. Microplastics (e.g., pellets, granules) are smaller than 5 mm, found throughout the water column, and compose 95% of the plastics in the ocean.[ix] Not readily seen, they receive less attention than macroplastics, which are visible pieces of debris, larger than 5 mm, and usually found on surface water or coastal beaches.[x]