Meiru Wang, a biologist from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and her team have found that 1 in 4 embryos have abnormally small eyes due to nanoplastics.
Traces of nanoplastics may interfere with the stem cells from which tissues and organs generally originate, disrupting the early stages of development in chicken embryos, according to a new study published in Environmental International.
Meiru Wang, a biologist from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and her team utilized fluorescent microscopes to observe how nanometer-scale plastic particles were injected into chick embryos and how they traveled over the embryonic gut wall and into their various organs.
Can nanoplastics affect human embryos?
“We used a high concentration of polystyrene particles that would normally not be present in an organism. But it shows what nanoplastics can do in extreme cases on very young [chicken] embryos,” Wang said in a press release.
The potential impact of microplastics on early cellular and tissue development that gives rise to organs and bodies is largely unclear. Additionally, most relevant investigations have been conducted on aquatic animals like zebrafish.
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In these most recent lab experiments, the 25 nanometer-sized polystyrene nanoplastics appeared to adhere to neural crest stem cells, preventing them from moving into locations where they typically develop critical tissues and organs.
“Neural crest cells are sticky, so nanoparticles can adhere to them and thereby disrupt organs that depend on these cells for their development,” said Michael Richardson, a developmental biologist at Leiden University.
Neural crest cells give rise to the heart, arteries, facial features, nervous system, and other organs in all vertebrates.
David Sinclair, a molecular biologist and longevity researcher, told Insider that he de-aged himself by a decade.
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