Is cell culture a suitable tool for the evaluation of micro- and nanoplastics ecotoxicity?

Abstract

Plastic particles have been described in aquatic ecosystems worldwide. An increasing number of studies have tried to evaluate the toxic impacts of microplastics (1–5000 µm) but also nanoplastics (<1 µm) in marine and freshwater organisms. However, the wide variety of plastic particles characteristics such as various sizes, shapes, functionalization or types of polymer, makes it difficult to evaluate their impact with regular ecotoxicity testing. In this context, cell culture, mainly used in human toxicology, could be a promising tool to evaluate micro- and nanoplastics toxicity with a wide diversity of conditions allowing to generate a large set of data. This review presents the current research on micro and nanoplastics using cell culture of marine and freshwater organisms, describes the limitations of cell culture tool and defines whether this tool can be considered as a relevant alternative strategy for ecotoxic evaluation of micro and nanoplastics especially for future regulatory needs. Articles using specifically cell culture tool from aquatic organisms such as fish or bivalves were identified. The majority evaluated the toxicity of polystyrene nanobeads on immune parameters, oxidative stress or DNA damage in fish cells. Although most of the papers characterized nanoplastic particles into the cell culture media, the relevance of testing conditions is not always clear. The development of cell culture can offer many opportunities for the evaluation of plastic particles’ cellular impacts, but more research is needed to develop relevant culture models, on various aquatic organisms, and with consideration of abiotic parameters especially composition of cell culture media for nanoplastic evaluation.

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AC set up and designed the review, CR did the literature search, and CR and MR wrote the review with the contribution of AC.

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Correspondence to Messika Revel.

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Revel, M., Roman, C. & Châtel, A. Is cell culture a suitable tool for the evaluation of micro- and nanoplastics ecotoxicity?. Ecotoxicology (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10646-021-02355-z

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Keywords

  • Cell culture
  • Microplastic
  • Nanoplastic
  • Aquatic organisms