22 May 2023

Plastic particles from packaging entered the brain two hours after eating

A team of researchers from the University of Vienna and the University of Debrecen studied the mechanism that allows plastic nanoparticles to spread through the bloodstream. The study showed that polysterol particles are able to cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain. This increases the risk of inflammation, neurological disorders and the development of neurodegenerative diseases.

Scientists conducted the study on six mice. Three of them were orally injected with polystyrene, a plastic used in food packaging, for example. After the meal, the animals were put to sleep and the researchers collected brain samples. Analysis showed that as early as two hours after the meal, microplastic particles were found in the brains of the mice.

The blood-brain barrier is a network of blood vessels and tissues that prevents toxins and harmful substances from entering the brain. It is a cellular barrier that allows only water, oxygen, general anesthetics and carbon dioxide into the brain.

Plastic particles should be blocked by this system, but scientists showed that small enough nanoscale elements successfully overcame the protection. The analysis showed that the ability of nanoplastics to pass through the barrier is a complex process. It depends on factors such as the size of the particles, the chemical composition of its surface and the type of cells with which they interact.

The researchers note that exposure to nanoplastic may have a negative effect on the nervous system. While more research is being done, it is important to limit exposure and use of such components, they suggest.

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