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Exploring the Impact of Micro & Nanoplastics on Intestinal Health: Insights from Cutting-Edge Research Presented at the Society of Toxicology

At the recent Society of Toxicology conference in Salt Lake City, Meike Van der Zande, a PlasticsFatE researcher from Wageningen Food Safety Research in the Netherlands, unveiled ground-breaking findings that shed light on the potential hazards of micro and nanoplastics (MNPs) on human health.

Van der Zande's presentation, titled "Development and application of an immunocompetent human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived intestinal epithelial cell model for hazard assessment of the oral exposure route," delved into the complex interactions between MNPs and the human body's immune system, particularly within the intestinal tract.

The study focused on the development of an advanced model system using human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) to create intestinal epithelial cell layers that closely mimic those found in the human intestine. These hiPSC-derived intestinal epithelial cell (IEC) layers were then combined with immune cells, including dendritic cells (DCs), to create a more physiologically relevant model.

Key findings from the research include:

  • hiPSC-derived IEC layers closely resemble the cell types present in the human intestine.

  • These cell layers exhibit pro-inflammatory responses when exposed to inflammatory stimuli, indicating their potential usefulness in studying inflammatory conditions.

  • Co-culture of hiPSC-derived IECs and DCs was successfully achieved using innovative techniques.

  • Exposure of DCs to MNPs did not result in significant immunomodulatory effects under the conditions tested.

Van der Zande and her colleagues' work not only advances our understanding of the potential health impacts of MNPs but also highlights the importance of developing more sophisticated in vitro models for toxicological studies.

During the conference, attended by over 5,000 participants, Van der Zande engaged in discussions with fellow scientists and regulatory authorities, including representatives from the FDA, about the implications of MNP exposure and the ongoing research efforts within the PlasticsFatE project.

The research presented by Van der Zande underscores the need for further investigation into the potential risks associated with MNPs and the importance of adopting more advanced model systems in risk assessment strategies.

For those interested in digging deeper into the details of this research, the poster presented by Meike Van der Zande is available for download at this link.

As we continue to unravel the complexities of MNPs and their impacts, studies like these pave the way for more informed decision-making and proactive measures to protect human health and the environment.

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