Microplastics (MPs) lipophilic nature and widespread distribution raises concerns due to their increasing presence in the marine environment and their ability to adsorb organic contaminants, as being potential vehicles for transport and potential source of accumulation of organic contaminants by marine organisms. The organic UV-filter, oxybenzone (BP-3) is a constituent of sunscreens and personal care products, entering the marine environment either by direct contact with swimmers or by wastewater effluents. In this study the ecotoxicological effects of exposure to low-density polyethylene (LDPE) microplastics with and without adsorbed BP-3 were investigated in the peppery furrow shell clam, Scrobicularia plana. LDPE microplastics with a size range of 11-13 μm were previously contaminated with an environmentally relevant concentration of BP-3 (82 ng g-1). S. plana individuals were exposed to a concentration of 1 mg L-1 of microplastics with and without BP-3 adsorbed in a water-sediment exposure system for 14 days. Clams were sampled at the beginning of the experiment and after 3, 7, and 14 days of exposure. Multiple biomarkers were analysed to investigate the effect of exposure in different clam tissues, gills, digestive gland, and haemolymph. Antioxidant (superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase) and biotransformation (glutathione-S-transferases) enzyme activities, oxidative damage (lipid peroxidation), genotoxicity (single and double strand DNA breaks), and neurotoxicity (acetylcholinesterase activity) were assessed along with two biomarker indexes to assess the overall health status. Results indicate that after 7 days of exposure MPs with adsorbed BP-3 induced oxidative stress and damage, when compared to exposure to virgin MPs and control treatments. Neurotoxic effects were also noted in MPs with adsorbed BP-3 after 14 days exposure, while some evidence points to increased genotoxicity with exposure time. Overall results indicate that gills were more affected by exposure to microplastics than digestive gland and that biomarkers alterations are apparently more related to the toxicity of BP-3 adsorbed than virgin MPs alone.
Keywords: DNA damage; Neurotoxicity; Oxidative damage; Oxidative stress; Oxybenzone; Polyethylene.
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