Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Biology (B.S.B.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Robert Mans



Nanoplastic accumulation in the environment has dramatically increased in recent years due to plastic production and improper disposal. Plastics have been detected in human organs, blood, and stool. Previous research has shown that nanoplastics that enter the food chain can be found in the digestive tissue of fish and can affect the overall health of the fish (Kim et al., 2022). Further research has shown that these plastics can also penetrate the blood-brain barrier of fish and cause behavioral abnormalities (Mattsson et al., 2017). Few studies have fully explored the neurotoxic effects of plastic nanoparticles on the zebrafish brain. Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and 4C4 are two proteins expressed in the brain that are commonly associated with neuroinflammation. In this study, we fed polystyrene-enriched brine shrimp (Artemia) to adult zebrafish for a period of 14 days. On day 15, the telencephalon of the zebrafish brain was removed and homogenized. The neural tissue was biochemically analyzed to discover the effect of plastic on the neuroinflammatory processes. It was expected that introducing nano-plastics into the brain would cause an increase in pro-inflammatory cellular processes, potentially causing damage to the brain. It was discovered that the introduction of nanoplastics induced small changes to GFAP and actin and a statistically significant increase in 4C4.