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Nanoplastics exacerbate Parkinson's disease symptoms in C. elegans and human cells

Jeong, A | Park, SJ  | Lee, EJ  | Kim, KW
Journal of hazardous materials, 465. : 133289-133289, 2024
Journal Title
Journal of hazardous materials
The increasing prevalence of nanoplastics in our environment due to the widespread use of plastics poses potential health risks that are not yet fully understood. This study examines the physiological and neurotoxic effects of these minuscule nanoplastic particles on the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as well as on human cells. Here, we find that 25 nm polystyrene nanoplastic particles can inhibit animal growth and movement at very low concentrations, with varying effects on their surface groups. Furthermore, these nanoplastic particles not only accumulate in the digestive tract but also penetrate further into extraintestinal tissues. Such nanoplastics significantly compromise the integrity of the intestinal barrier, leading to “leaky gut” conditions and cause mitochondrial fragmentation in muscles, which possibly explains the observed movement impairments. A striking discovery was that these nanoplastics exacerbate symptoms similar to those of Parkinson's disease (PD), including dopaminergic neuronal degeneration, locomotor dysfunction, and accumulation of α-Synuclein aggregates. Importantly, our study demonstrates that the detrimental effects of nanoplastics on the aggregation of α-Synuclein extend to both C. elegans and human cell models of PD. In conclusion, our research highlights the potential health hazards linked to the physicochemical properties of nanoplastics, underlining the urgency of understanding their interactions with biological systems. Environmental implication: The escalating prevalence of nanoplastics in the environment due to widespread plastic usage raises potential health risks. Studies conducted on C. elegans indicate that even low concentrations of 25 nm polystyrene nanoplastics can impair growth and movement. These particles accumulate in the digestive system, compromising the intestinal barrier, causing “leaky gut”, as well as inducing Parkinson's-like symptoms. Importantly, in both C. elegans and human cell models of Parkinson's disease, such nanoplastics penetrate tissues or cells and increase α-Synuclein aggregates. This underscores the urgent need to understand the interactions of nanoplastics with biological systems and highlights potential environmental and health consequences.

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Journal Papers > Research Organization > Inflamm-aging Translational Research Center
Journal Papers > School of Medicine / Graduate School of Medicine > Brain Science
Ajou Authors
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