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Transgenerational and epigenetic consequences of dietary intake of nanoplastics

21st national competition for scientific and technical research

Food security and biotechnology

Senior Researcher : María del Carmen López de las Hazas Mingo


Around 80% of plastic waste ends up into the ecosystem indiscriminately. Over time, plastics are fragmented by external agents, generating small particles classified according to their size. Microplastics (MP) range from 1 to 5,000 µm and nanoplastics (NP) range from 0.001 to 1 µm. Despite their difficult analysis, they have been detected in various organisms, including human feces, placenta, and plasma. However, the biological effect of NPs on human health remains to be studied.

The ingestion of MPs is associated with the development of different intestinal problems and an increase in local inflammatory response. However, the effect at systemic level is still unknown. This project aims to demonstrate whether the accidental consumption of NPs through diet can play a role in metabolic disorders and exert transgenerational effects.

For this, the present project aims to i) evaluate the potential biological impact, both in intestinal and liver cells; ii) to study the in vivo effect produced at systemic level after sustained dietary intake of NPs; iii) to study the transgenerational impact derived from a sustained oral exposure of NPs during pregnancy; and iv) to study the potential epigenetic effect through the study of circulating microRNAs in response to its consumption.

The outcomes of this project will determine if the accidental consumption of NPs influences the development of chronic diseases and impacts on consumer's health. In this sense, results will contribute to establish new regulatory and public health policies.

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