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Valerie Stock, Cecilia Laurisch, Josephin Franke, Merve Hilal Dönmez, Linn Voss, Linda Böhmert, Albert Braeuning, Holger Sieg.
Toxicology in Vitro
Humans are exposed to small plastic particles through contaminated food. Such contaminations usually comprise different particulate plastic materials differing in size, shape and surface. Up to now, data on intestinal uptake and adverse effects resulting from plastic particles other than polystyrene are scarce. In order to fill these knowledge gaps, this study aims to elucidate the gastrointestinal uptake and effects of microplastic particles of the materials polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) using human in vitro systems.
The human intestinal epithelial cell line Caco-2 was used to study particle uptake in vitro, including an inverse culture system for buoyant particle species like PE and PP. Cytotoxicity was investigated using the human cell lines Caco-2, HepG2 and HepaRG in order to detect a possible impact on the first organs which come into contact with ingested particles: the intestine and the liver. The results of the study demonstrate that especially 1–4 μm PE microparticles were transported to a small but significant extent through the intestinal epithelium in vitro, to a substantially higher amount than PS particles of the same size. The present results suggest that intestinal exposure to plastic microparticles is material- and size-dependent. Only excessively high concentrations far beyond realistic dietary exposure of consumers induce cytotoxic effects.