Accumulation of different shapes of microplastics initiates intestinal injury and gut microbiota dysbiosis in the gut of zebrafish

Chemosphere. 2019 Dec;236:124334. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.07.065. Epub 2019 Jul 10.


Different shapes of microplastics are widely detected in the environment and organisms and most of them remain in the gut. However, the influences of shapes on the bioaccumulation and toxicity of microplastics in the gut are largely unknown. Three shapes (bead, fragment, and fiber) of microplastics of comparable size in one dimension were prepared to exposure to zebrafish. The accumulation and toxicities of microplastics in the gut were detected. Shape-dependent accumulation in the gut was observed with the order of fibers (8.0 μg/mg) > fragments (1.7 μg/mg) > beads (0.5 μg/mg). The accumulation of microplastics caused multiple toxic effects in fish intestine, including mucosal damage, and increased permeability, inflammation and metabolism disruption. Based on these toxic effects, microplastic fibers resulted in more severe intestinal toxicity than microplastic fragments and beads did. Furthermore, microplastics also induced gut microbiota dysbiosis and specific bacteria alterations, which will provide novel insights into the potential mechanism of microplastics causing intestinal toxicities in fish. Our results also suggested that shape-depended effects should not be ignored in the health risk assessment of microplastics.

Keywords: Accumulation; Gut; Microplastics; Toxicity; Zebrafish.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dysbiosis / etiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Intestines / abnormalities*
  • Plastics / toxicity*
  • Zebrafish


  • Plastics