From drinking water directly into the brain
The knowledge magazine Scinexx has published a study showing that microplastics from drinking water are deposited directly in our brains. Wookbong Kwon from the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute in South Korea and his colleagues orally administered microplastics in the form of polystyrene beads to mice for seven days. The animals were given their daily dose to drink mixed with water. The brain should actually be well protected against such contamination by the blood-brain barrier, but the microplastic went directly into the brain.
The polystyrene particles were deposited in the microglial cells. These are considered the defence cells of the brain. They release messenger substances and cytotoxins in response to pathogens or contaminants and thus take on a function similar to the white blood cells in the rest of the body. The growth of these cells decreased and they divided less. In addition, Kwon and his team observed changes in cell morphology, immune response and cell death. Specifically, ingestion of the microplastic caused the microglial cells to begin producing more inflammatory messengers. After a few days, increased marker messengers for cellular suicide were also detectable.
The results suggest that microplastics have a neurotoxic effect in the brain. For a long time, microparticles have been suspected of being involved in various neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. Kwon and his team are conducting further studies to examine exactly what consequences the particles have in the brain.