Animal Reproduction (AR)
Animal Reproduction (AR)
Thematic Section: 39th Annual Meeting of the Association of Embryo Technology in Europe (AETE)

The impact of microplastics on female reproduction and early life

Jiayi Yang; Jorke Kamstra; Juliette Legler; Hilde Aardema

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Plastic pollution in our environment is one of the most important global health concerns right now. Micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs) are taken up by both humans and animals, mainly via food and water, and can pass important epithelial barriers. Indications of plastics in the blood circulation have recently been shown in both humans and farm animals, but standardized methods to quantify the exact levels of MNPs to which we are exposed are currently lacking. Potential hazards of MNPs are being investigated very recently, including the impact that MNPs may have on reproduction. However, studies on mammalian reproduction are scarce, but a wealth of data from aquatic species indicates reproductive effects of MNPs. The first studies in rodent models demonstrate that MNPs reach the gonads after oral exposure and may impact offspring after maternal exposure during the gestational period. These effects may arise from the particles themselves or the presence of plastic contaminants that leach from plastics. Plastic contamination has been detected in human placentas, fetal fluid and the meconium of newborns, indicating the presence of plastics from the very first start of life. Currently there is a lack of studies that investigate the impact of MNP exposure during the periconception and embryonic period, whereas this is an extremely sensitive period that needs considerable attention with the growing amount of plastics in our environment.


microplastics, reproduction, genital tract, oocyte, embryo


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