Microplastics cause immune cells to die 3 times faster than normal

New research has found immune cells that come into contact with microplastics die three times faster than cells that don't.

    2019/10/07

NSFW    UTRECHT, NETHERLANDS — New research from the University Medical Center Utrecht has found that immune cells that target microplastics die three times faster than cells that aren't exposed to microplastics.

The research was presented at the Plastic Health Summit on October 3 in Amsterdam.

To test the microplastics and the immune cells, the scientists compared clean microplastics with contaminated microplastics. Researchers put microplastic particles of different sizes in a petri dish along with immune cells and blood plasma.

The experiment found that clean microplastics were not recognized as intruders by the immune cells, and were therefore left untouched.

However, the study found that larger contaminated microplastics were targeted by immune cells. According to a news release by the University Medical Center Utrecht, those immune cells died shortly after while the microplastics remained.

The study also found that smaller microplastics encapsulated by the cells did not harm the immune cells.

Lead author of the study Nienke Vrisekoop explained in the news release that it's unclear what will happen in the body as microplastics accumulate and are unable to be eliminated by the immune cells.

She said their team plans to follow up on their research by testing microplastics that have been exposed to the wind and the weather.
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