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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Animal Metabolism-Agricultural Chemicals Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #380289

Research Project: Detection and Fate of Chemical and Biological Residues in Food and Environmental Systems

Location: Animal Metabolism-Agricultural Chemicals Research

Title: Micro/nanoplastic mediated pathophysiological changes in rodents, rabbits, and chicken

item Banerjee, Amrita
item Shelver, Weilin

Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/18/2021
Publication Date: 4/20/2021
Citation: Banerjee, A., Shelver, W.L. 2021. Micro/nanoplastic mediated pathophysiological changes in rodents, rabbits, and chicken. Journal of Food Protection.

Interpretive Summary: Small sized plastics called microplastics or nanoplastics are known to contaminate the environment, water sources, and some human foods. The effects of these small plastics on the aquatic food chain are documented, but micro/nanoplastic exposures and impacts in land animals are poorly characterized. In this review, existing data on the fate and toxicity of micro/nanoplastics in mice, rats, rabbits, and chickens have been compiled to better understand possible health risk implications in terrestrial animals, including those used for food. Existing data suggest that micro/nanoplastics mainly effect liver and intestine functions, but whole-animal toxicity thresholds remain poorly defined. The review includes suggestions for future animal studies.

Technical Abstract: Plastics provide tremendous societal benefits and are an indispensable part of our lives. However, fragmented plastics or those intentionally manufactured in small sizes (microplastics or nanoplastics) are of concern because they can infiltrate agricultural soils and enter the human food chain through trophic transfer. The pathophysiological impacts of micro/nanoplastics in humans are not known but their effects in terrestrial mammals may help elucidate their potential effects in human beings. Rodent studies have demonstrated that micro/nanoplastics can breach the intestinal barrier, accumulate in various organs, cause gut dysbosis, decrease mucus secretion, induce metabolic alterations, and cause neurotoxicity, amongst other pathophysiologic effects. Larger mammals such as rabbits can also absorb microplastics orally. In farm animals such as chicken, microplastics have been detected in the gut, thereby raising food safety concerns. This review focuses on studies conducted to assess effects of micro/nanoplastic exposure in terrestrial mammals and farm animals, identifies knowledge gaps, and provides recommendations for further research.