Maternal exposure to polystyrene nanoplastics causes brain abnormalities in progeny

Bohyeon Jeong, Jeong Yeob Baek, Jahong Koo, Subin Park, Young Kyoung Ryu, Kyoung Shim Kim, Seungjae Zhang, Chi Hye Chung, Rumeysa Dogan, Hyung Seok Choi, Dahun Um, Tae Kyung Kim, Wang Sik Lee, Jinyoung Jeong, Won Ho Shin, Jae Ran Lee, Nam Soon Kim, Da Yong Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


As global plastic production continues to grow, microplastics released from a massive quantity of plastic wastes have become a critical environmental concern. These microplastic particles are found in a wide range of living organisms in a diverse array of ecosystems. In this study, we investigated the biological effects of polystyrene nanoplastic (PSNP) on development of the central nervous system using cultured neural stem cells (NSCs) and mice exposed to PSNP during developmental stages. Our study demonstrates that maternal administration of PSNP during gestation and lactating periods altered the functioning of NSCs, neural cell compositions, and brain histology in progeny. Similarly, PSNP-induced molecular and functional defects were also observed in cultured NSCs in vitro. Finally, we show that the abnormal brain development caused by exposure to high concentrations of PSNP results in neurophysiological and cognitive deficits in a gender-specific manner. Our data demonstrate the possibility that exposure to high amounts of PSNP may increase the risk of neurodevelopmental defects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number127815
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - Mar 15 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive deficit
  • Generational transfer
  • Neural stem cell
  • Neurodevelopmental defects
  • Polystyrene nanoplastic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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