Pre/post-natal exposure to microplastic as a potential risk factor for autism spectrum disorder

Javeria Zaheer, Hyeongi Kim, In Ok Ko, Eun Kyeong Jo, Eui Ju Choi, Hae June Lee, Insop Shim, Hyun jeong Woo, Jonghoon Choi, Gun Ha Kim, Jin Su Kim

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35 Citations (Scopus)


In common with the increase in environmental pollution in the past 10 years, there has also been a recent increase in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In this regard, we hypothesized that exposure to microplastics is a potential risk factor for ASD. To evaluate the validity of this hypothesis, we initially examined the accumulation of polyethylene (PE) in the brains of mice and then assessed the behavioral effects using mouse models at different life stages, namely, prenatal, post-weaning, puberty, and adult models. Based on typical behavioral assessments of autistic traits in the model mice, we established that ASD-like traits were induced in mice after PE feeding. In addition, we examined the induction of ASD-like traits in response to microplastic exposure using positron emission tomography, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, microarray, and microbiome analysis. We believe these findings provide evidence in microplastics as a potential risk factor for ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107121
JournalEnvironment international
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar

Bibliographical note

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  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • EGR-1
  • Microplastic
  • Polyethylene
  • microbiome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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