Maternal exposure to different sizes of polystyrene microplastics during gestation causes metabolic disorders in their offspring

Environ Pollut. 2019 Dec;255(Pt 1):113122. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.113122. Epub 2019 Aug 30.


Microplastics (MPs) are highly concerned environmental pollutants that are ubiquitous in the environmental and might affect human and animal health. In this study, we exposed pregnant mice to 0.5 and 5 μm with 100 and 1000 μg/L polystyrene MPs, then investigated maternal MPs exposure during gestation and evaluated the potential effects on the mice offspring (PND42). In the F1 offspring, the serum triglyceride (TG), total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels and hepatic TC, TG levels were altered, while some of them were only significant in 5 μm MPs-treated group. Various serum metabolites including amino acids and acyl-carnitines were carried out by nonderivatized tandem mass spectrometry, there were 11 and 15 kinds of metabolites changes significantly in 0.5 and 5 μm MPs-treated groups, respectively. Furthermore, the changes of C0 and C0/(C16 + 18) indicators suggested the potential risk of fatty acid metabolism disorder, which was verified by hepatic genes expression. These results indicated that maternal exposure of two different sizes of polystyrene MPs increased risks of metabolic disorder in their offspring, and greater effects were observed in 5 μm MPs-treated groups. The data provides a preliminary exploration of the potential relationship between MPs and the risk metabolic disorder even in the next generation, which might offer new insights into the health risk assessment of MPs.

Keywords: Maternal exposure; Metabolic disorder; Mice offspring; Polystyrene microplastics.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Metabolic Diseases / chemically induced
  • Mice
  • Microplastics / toxicity*
  • Polystyrenes / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Microplastics
  • Polystyrenes
  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol