Microplastics and their associated organic pollutants from the coastal waters of the central Adriatic Sea (Italy): Investigation of adipogenic effects in vitro


Even though microplastic (MP) pollution in aquatic environment is nowadays widely studied, a huge gap of knowledge exists on their actual biological effects. In this study we first reported environmental baseline data on the occurrence and characterization of floating MPs in Italian coastal waters of the Central Adriatic Sea by using a standardized monitoring protocol. Further, we analyzed the concentrations of MP-associated chemicals and evaluated their potential adipogenic effects using 3T3-L1 preadipocytes. MPs were found in each sampling stations showing the highest abundance (1.88 ± 1.78 items/m3) in the sites more distant from the coast with fragments as the most common shape category. All targeted organic pollutants (i.e. polychlorinated biphenyls – PCBs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons -PAHs, organophosphorus – OP, and organochlorine – OC pesticides) have been detected on the surface of the collected MPs. The highest concentrations of PAHs were found on MPs from inshore (i.e. <1.5 NM) surface waters with low-ring PAHs as dominant components. Similarly, MPs from inshore waters had higher ΣPCB concentrations (64.72 ng/g plastic) than those found in offshore (i.e. >6 NM) waters (10.37 ng/g plastic). Among pesticides, all measured OPs were detected in each sample analyzed with pirimiphos-methyl as the most representative compound. For OCs, the sum of all concentrations of congeners was higher in coastal with respect to offshore waters. Moreover, in vitro 3T3-L1 screening of MP extracts indicated potential metabolic effects resulting in both adipogenesis and lipid uptake/storage.

Authors: Martina Capriotti, Paolo Cocci, Luca Bracchetti, Erika Cottone, Rosaria Scandiffio, Giovanni Caprioli, Gianni Sagratini, Gilberto Mosconi, Patrizia Bovolin, Francesco Alessandro Palermo
; Full Source: Chemosphere 2020 Aug 22;263:128090. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2020.128090.