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Many studies using experimental and wild animals have reported negative effects of microplastic beads (MPs) ingestion. However, data regarding the lowest observed adverse effect levels (LOAELs) of MPs remain limited. Our aim was to evaluate the adverse effect levels of polyethylene MPs (10-63 μm diameter) with respect to growth, reproduction, and the eyes and kidneys of medaka (Oryzias latipes) under breeding conditions to contribute to future research involving LOAEL determinations. Fish were exposed to 0.009 mg-MPs (approximately 1000 particles)/L to 0.32 mg-MPs (approximately 40,000 particles)/L for 12 weeks. The eyes and kidneys were evaluated by histopathologic analysis. Although histologic analyses indicated an absence of MPs in the tissues, the eyes and kidneys as well as reproduction were adversely affected by increasing MP concentrations. The number of spawned eggs decreased, and changes were noted in the eyes of fish exposed to ≥0.032 mg-MPs/L under breeding conditions. The eyes exhibited thinning of the optic nerve fiber layer and dilatation of retinal capillaries compared with medaka not treated with MPs. Changes in the kidneys were observed in fish exposed to ≥0.065 mg-MPs/L. The mesangial matrix in the glomerulus of the kidneys was expanded compared with non-treated medaka, suggesting a deterioration in renal function. Analyses of an oxidative stress marker in the tissues indicated that lesion progression was associated with increased oxidative stress. Furthermore, a comparison of adverse effect levels suggested that MPs were more toxic to the eyes and reproduction than the kidneys or growth. Our data should prove useful for determining the LOAELs of polyethylene beads on vertebrates and enhance understanding of the mechanism underlying the biological toxicity of polyethylene MPs. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Shinichi Chisada, Masao Yoshida, Kanae Karita. Polyethylene microbeads are more critically toxic to the eyes and reproduction than the kidneys or growth in medaka, Oryzias latipes. Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987). 2021 Jan 01;268(Pt B):115957

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PMID: 33158613

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