The potential toxicity of polystyrene nanoplastics to human trophoblasts in vitro

Environ Pollut. 2022 Oct 15;311:119924. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119924. Epub 2022 Aug 12.


Nanoplastics (NPs), the emerging contaminants in recent years, widely distributed in the environment and are bioaccumulated and biomagnified in organisms through food chain. A growing number of studies have detected plastic particulates in human placenta and blood. However, few studies have focused on their effects during human pregnancy. Herein, human trophoblast HTR-8/Svneo cells were used to evaluate the effects and the possible mechanism of 100-nm polystyrene NPs on placental trophoblasts at the maternal-fetal interface. The results showed that NPs entered the trophoblastic cytoplasm, decreased cell viability, caused cell cycle arrest, reduced the cell migration and invasion abilities, increased level of intracellular reactive oxygen species and the production of proinflammatory cytokines (TNF-α and IFN-γ) in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, global transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) was performed on HTR-8/Svneo cells with or without 100 μg/mL PS-NP exposure for 24 h. A total of 344 differentially expressed genes were detected. The gene functions for regulation of leukocyte differentiation, response to stimulus, cell cycle, apoptotic process, and cell adhesion were enriched. Thyroid hormone, Hippo, TGF-β and FoxO signaling pathways were activated. Collectively, our data provided evidences for the adverse consequences of NPs on the biological functions of trophoblasts, which provided new insights into the potential trophoblast toxicity of NPs in mammals.

Keywords: Cytotoxicity; HTR-8/Svneo cells; Nanoplastics; Trophoblasts.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Movement
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Microplastics
  • Placenta* / metabolism
  • Polystyrenes / metabolism
  • Polystyrenes / toxicity
  • Pregnancy
  • Trophoblasts* / metabolism


  • Microplastics
  • Polystyrenes