WUHAN, July 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese scientists have unveiled a potential mechanism of polystyrene particles causing mental or neurodegenerative diseases.
The extensive use and incorrect disposal of plastic products have led to increasingly serious plastic pollution. Ding Yi, an associate professor with the Huazhong Agricultural University, said that previous studies have reported the adverse effects of plastics on adult animals and human health, but its potential toxicity to fetuses is unclear.
In this study, "the effects of polystyrene micro- and nano-particles with and without surface modifications on fetuses via oral administration from gestational days 1 to 17 were investigated in mice," according to the paper's introduction part.
Anxious-like behavior is considered a triggering factor for mental illnesses such as autism and depression. "These results indicated that the anxiety-like behavior of the progenies may be caused by the damage of polystyrene nanoparticles to thalamic GABAergic neurons via oxidative stress during their fetal development," said the paper.
The research has found that the microplastics accumulated in the brain of fetuses can lead to anxiety behavior after adulthood, which is mainly manifested in the decline of desire and ability to explore new things.
The findings were published in the journal Environment International. ■