Triclosan-loaded aged microplastics exacerbate oxidative stress and neurotoxicity in Xenopus tropicalis tadpoles via increased bioaccumulation

Sci Total Environ. 2024 Jul 20:935:173457. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.173457. Epub 2024 May 22.


Microplastics and chlorine-containing triclosan (TCS) are widespread in aquatic environments and may pose health risks to organisms. However, studies on the combined toxicity of aged microplastics and TCS are limited. To investigate the toxic effects and potential mechanisms associated with co-exposure to TCS adsorbed on aged polyethylene microplastics (aPE-MPs) at environmentally relevant concentrations, a 7-day chronic exposure experiment was conducted using Xenopus tropicalis tadpoles. The results showed that the overall particle size of aPE-MPs decreased after 30 days of UV aging, whereas the increase in specific surface area improved the adsorption capacity of aPE-MPs for TCS, resulting in the bioaccumulation of TCS under dual-exposure conditions in the order of aPE-TCS > PE-TCS > TCS. Co-exposure to aPE-MPs and TCS exacerbated oxidative stress and neurotoxicity to a greater extent than a single exposure. Significant upregulation of pro-symptomatic factors (IL-β and IL-6) and antioxidant enzyme activities (SOD and CAT) indicated that the aPE-TCS combination caused more severe oxidative stress and inflammation. Molecular docking revealed the molecular mechanism of the direct interaction between TCS and SOD, CAT, and AChE proteins, which explains why aPE-MPs promote the bioaccumulation of TCS, causing increased toxicity upon combined exposure. These results emphasize the need to be aware of the combined toxicity caused by the increased ability of aged microplastics to carry contaminants.

Keywords: Aged microplastics; Molecular mechanism; Oxidative stress; Triclosan; Xenopus tropicalis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Larva* / drug effects
  • Microplastics* / toxicity
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Triclosan* / toxicity
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical* / toxicity
  • Xenopus*


  • Microplastics
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Triclosan