The scientists want to identify the impacts on vascular health and whether there is any correlation between environmental exposure to microplastics and the results of coronary artery bypass grafting.
A multi-institutional research team led by the University of Hull in the UK conducted a small pilot study and found 15 microplastic particles per gram of human vein tissue, in what constitutes the first evidence of microplastic contamination of human vascular tissues. These results support that these contaminants are transported within tissues, specifically blood vessels, and will make it possible to determine the impacts on vascular health, they reported last Wednesday.
The first study of its kind
Until now, no studies have examined whether microplastics can infiltrate or cross any biological barriers or have examined the potential links between exposure to environmental microplastics and coronary artery bypass graft (CRC) outcomes. Scientists analyzed tissue from the human saphenous vein (blood vessels in the legs) extracted from patients with coronary disease who underwent CRC.
“We were surprised to find them,” said Professor Jeanette Rotchell, an environmental toxicologist at the University of Hull, who led the research. “We already know that microplastics are in the blood,” she added. “But it wasn’t clear if they could cross blood vessels into vascular tissue. and this work would suggest that they can do just that,” he said.
Various types of polymers in venous tissues
However, although the size ranges of the microplastics found are similar, the shape characteristics and polymer types differ from other human tissue types analyzed to date. Between the found polymers include those of alkyd resin, found in synthetic paints, varnishes, and enamels. They also found polyvinyl acetate, an adhesive that is one of the main ingredients in industrial and household glues.
Other of the most found were the derivatives of nylon and ethylene-vinyl-alcohol, which are used to create flexible packaging materials, with multiple uses including food packaging. “These early analyzes of human tissue suggest that the distribution of predominant types of microplastics may be tissue-specificsaid Rotchell. The results of this study were published last Wednesday in PLoS One.
Its implications for human health
The researchers believe that the presence of these microplastics in veins may well play a role in damaging the interior of blood vessels and causing them to become blocked over time. “Saphenous vein graft failure has been a long-standing problem after coronary artery bypass surgery.. It is an effective treatment but longevity is limited by impaired vein patency,” said Professor Mahmoud Loubani, co-author of the study.
Now, the scientists want to identify the impacts on vascular health and whether there is any correlation between environmental exposure to microplastics and CRC results. They will also focus on finding ways to eliminate these microplastics.