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ARS Home » Plains Area » Manhattan, Kansas » Center for Grain and Animal Health Research » Grain Quality and Structure Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #383339

Research Project: Grain Composition Traits Related to End-Use Quality and Value of Sorghum

Location: Grain Quality and Structure Research

Title: Adverse effect of polystyrene microplastics (PS-MPs) on tube formation and viability of human umbilical vein endothelial cells

item LEE, HEE-SEOP - University Of Maryland
item AMARAKOON, DARSHIKA - University Of Maryland
item WEI, CHENG-I - University Of Maryland
item CHOI, KYU YONG - University Of Maryland
item Smolensky, Dmitriy
item LEE, SEONG-HO - University Of Maryland

Submitted to: Food and Chemical Toxicology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/17/2021
Publication Date: 6/19/2021
Citation: Lee, H., Amarakoon, D., Wei, C., Choi, K., Smolensky, D., Lee, S. 2021. Adverse effect of polystyrene microplastics (PS-MPs) on tube formation and viability of human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 154:112356.

Interpretive Summary: Microplastics in the environment pose a danger to human health. In order to better study mitigating strategies, it is important to understand the deleterious effects of microplastics have on the human body. In this study, the effects of microplastics on the formation of endothelial tubes (such as blood vessels) was assessed using a tissue culture model. The results indicate that microplastics have a deleterious effect on endothelial tube formation. Specific molecular pathways were also elucidated. These results will help further research design, including dietary mitigation with foods such as sorghum.

Technical Abstract: Environmental contamination by microplastics (MPs) is an emerging concern that has brought considerable attention over the past few decades due to associated adverse impacts on living organisms, including potential human health problems. Endothelial dysfunction is a condition in which the endothelial layer fails to form normally, and is associated with impaired vascular function. Despite the fact that MPs are known to enter the circulation system through intestinal epithelium, no research has yet explored whether MPs impact the normal function of endothelial cells and the formation of vasculature. In the current study, we investigated the effect of polystyrene microplastics (PS-MPs) on tube formation and cytotoxicity in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). Treatment of HUVECs with PS-MPs significantly decreased cell viability, with intracellular accumulation occurring in a dose- and size-dependent manner. Moreover, significant dose-dependent inhibition of angiogenic tube formation was observed in HUVECs treated with 0.5 µm PS-MPs; this effect was accompanied by suppression of angiogenic signaling pathways (including phosphorylation of p38, SRC, FAK, and SMAD2) and inhibitory activity against wound healing and cell migration. Regarding the mechanism of decreased viability, we observed increased autophagic and necrotic cell death. These results indicate that short-term exposure of endothelial cells to PS-MPs represses tube-forming capacity, while long-term exposure leads to autophagy and necrosis-mediated cytotoxicity.