Polystyrene nanoplastic and engine oil synergistically intensify toxicity in Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus : Polystyrene nanoplastic and engine oil toxicity in Nile tilapia

BMC Vet Res. 2024 Apr 16;20(1):143. doi: 10.1186/s12917-024-03987-z.


Polystyrene nanoplastic (PS-NPs) and Engine oil (EO) pose multiple ecotoxic effects with increasing threat to fish ecosystems. The current study investigated the toxicity of 15 days exposure to PS-NPs and / or EO to explore their combined synergistic effects on Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus (O. niloticus). Hematobiochemical parameters, proinflammatory cytokines, and oxidative stress biomarkers as well as histological alterations were evaluated. The experimental design contained 120 acclimated Nile tilapia distributed into four groups, control, PS-NPs (5 mg/L), EO (1%) and their combination (PS-NPs + EO). After 15-days of exposure, blood and tissue samples were collected from all fish experimental groups. Results indicated that Nile tilapia exposed to PS-NPs and / or EO revealed a significant decrease in almost all the measured hematological parameters in comparison to the control, whereas WBCs and lymphocyte counts were significantly increased in the combined group only. Results clarified that the combined PS-NPs + EO group showed the maximum decrease in RBCs, Hb, MCH and MCHC, and showed the maximum significant rise in interleukin-1β (IL-1β), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in comparison to all other exposed groups. Meanwhile, total antioxidant capacity (TAC) showed a significant (p < 0.05) decline only in the combination group, whereas reduced glutathione (GSH) showed a significant decline in all exposed groups in comparison to the control. Both malondialdehyde (MDA) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) showed a significant elevation only in the combination group. Uric acid showed the maximum elevation in the combination group than all other groups, whereas creatinine showed significant elevation in the EO and combination group when compared to the control. Furthermore, the present experiment proved that exposure to these toxicants either individually or in combination is accompanied by pronounced histomorpholgical damage characterized by severe necrosis and hemorrhage of the vital organs of Nile tilapia, additionally extensively inflammatory conditions with leucocytes infiltration. We concluded that combination exposure to both PS-NPs and EO caused severe anemia, extreme inflammatory response, oxidative stress, and lipid peroxidation effects, thus they can synergize with each other to intensify toxicity in fish.

Keywords: Cytokines; Engine oil; Fish toxicity; Hematobiochemical parameters; Nile tilapia; Oxidative stress; Polystyrene nanoplastic.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Cichlids*
  • Ecosystem
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Microplastics* / metabolism
  • Microplastics* / pharmacology
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Polystyrenes / metabolism
  • Polystyrenes / toxicity


  • Microplastics
  • Polystyrenes
  • Antioxidants
  • Interleukin-6