Adverse outcome pathways potentially related to hazard identification of microplastics based on toxicity mechanisms

Jaeseong Jeong, Jinhee Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

158 Scopus citations


Increasing concern over microplastics has recently brought increased attention to studies on microplastic toxicity. Here, we conduct a systematic review on toxicity of microplastics that focuses on identifying data gaps in the mechanisms of microplastic toxicity. We observe that microplastic toxicology research thus far has focused on ecotoxicity using apical endpoints and only a few studies deal with toxicity mechanisms. Based on this review, we propose putative Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs) applicable to microplastic management to understand microplastic toxicity. We matched toxicity mechanisms and apical endpoints to a key event (KE) and adverse outcome (AO) information from the AOP Wiki. Overall, our results suggest that the molecular initiating event (MIE) was reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation and the AO was increased mortality, decreased growth and feeding, and reproduction failure. However, there are a limited number of studies on toxicity mechanisms of microplastics and, therefore, evidence concerning the relationship between KEs is not sufficient. Clearly, more studies on toxicity mechanisms are required to fill these gaps in data. This study also suggests that the AOP framework is a suitable tool to integrate existing data from various literature sources and can identify data gaps in microplastic toxicity mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-255
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • AOP Wiki
  • Adverse outcome pathway
  • Microplastics
  • Oxidative stress
  • Toxicity mechanism


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