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Environmental pollutants and intestinal health


Key word: gut; environmental contaminants; remediation


Many experts have conducted diverse studies on environmental contaminants in the past. Traditional pollutants included polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides, heavy metals, and industrial pollutants (Wu et al.; Safe; Martin, Griswold and citizens); however, with greater industrialization and resource extraction, new pollutants primarily consist of perfluoroalkyl substances, microplastics, persistent organic pollutants, dioxin-like compounds, nanomaterials, medicines, artificial sweeteners, etc. (T. Wang et al.; Richardson and Kimura).

The lack of legislative limits on most emerging pollutants may indicate a high risk of pathogenicity. In recent years, a rising number of studies have revealed that contaminants can be found not only in the air but also in the soil and the water (Sarma). Consequently, contaminants accumulate in the food chain and are transferred to the human body (Muir et al.; Dudka, Miller and B).

The intestine is the first line of defense against foreign chemicals. There is a significant relationship between the gut barrier and environmental pollutants. It has been suggested that environmental contaminants harm the intestinal barrier by creating oxidative stress and affecting the gut flora, etc., causing sickness (L. Zhang et al.; Shil et al.; Campbell). In addition, it has been demonstrated that intestinal bacteria may degrade pollutants in the body and that substances that maintain the health of the gut have a role in facilitating the excretion of pollutants from the body (Yuan et al.; Keulers et al.). To address the gut health produced by environmental pollutants, this study aggregates a representative sample of gut impacts based on existing literature and uses this as a jumping off point to examine approaches to minimize the effects of environmental pollutants at two levels.

讨论 Discussion


Environmental pollutants damage the intestinal barrier

Research into the impact of recently found environmental pollutants on the digestive tract has garnered a far greater amount of attention than research into the effects of heavy metals. For the purpose of this investigation, we zeroed in on one type of newly discovered pollutant that is widely regarded as being particularly representative: microplastics (MPs). According to a previous study, there are approximately 5.25 trillion weighting 268,940 tonnes, plastic particles floating on the surface of the world's oceans (Eriksen et al.). A domestic investigation discovered that plastic residues have accumulated to 550,800 tonnes in the soil (D. Zhang et al.). This may be a warning sign since it shows that individuals may be underestimating the amount of potential microplastics in their actual life. Microplastics (MPs) have been identified in a number of studies to be present in the air, food, and products used in the house(Q. Zhang et al.; Fadare et al.). There are three ways that MPs can enter the body: by ingestion, through absorption, and through dermal contact; however, ingestion is by far the most prevalent method of exposure. Because the gut is a primary target organ for the adverse effects of MPs in the ingestion pathway, research into the interaction between disruption to the gut barrier and MPs is an excellent starting point. At some dosages, microplastics, also known as MPs, have the potential to cause damage to the barrier that lines the intestinal tract. Research has shown that the presence of microplastic particles (MPs) may be an indicator of a decrease in the variety of microorganisms that are prevalent in the digestive system (Medriano, Bae and Safety). MPs were shown to significantly reduce the bacterial diversity of the springtail gut (Ju, Zhu and Qiao). The quantity of beneficial bacteria (Lactobacillus and Streptococcus) in the guts of animals that ingested pollutants was shown to be diminished (Montero et al.). In addition to this, there is evidence that MPs can have a negative impact on the growth of the gastrointestinal tract, it has been claimed that after ingesting MPs, the intestinal wall becomes thinner due to dysplasia, which hinders digestion and absorption(K. Wang et al.). The ability of MPs to adsorb pathogenic bacteria, microbial toxins, and heavy metals from ambient microorganisms is also well documented (Huang et al.). It has been demonstrated in a number of experiments that microplastics (MPs) and the harmful substances that they adsorb accumulate and interact in the gut, thereby disrupting the biological and immune barrier of the gut and providing an intestinal environment conducive to the growth of harmful microbial strains, which in turn leads to an imbalance in the intestinal flora (Y. Jin et al.; Huang et al.). If the intestinal barrier is broken, this is bad news because it means that environmental toxins will be able to enter the circulation of the body and potentially accumulate in other organs, leading to inflammation throughout the body and metabolic dysfunction.


Mitigating the effects of environmental pollutants on the intestinal tract

Even while they rid the body of potentially harmful pollutants, many drugs, including antibiotics, are connected to the development of adverse effects that patients would rather not experience. Making adjustments to one's food in order to maintain healthy intestinal function is becoming an increasingly frequent practice. Probiotics, prebiotics, and other functional foods with intestinal stability and various functional activities are some of the most well-established items that are currently available on the market for the regulation of dysbiosis of intestinal homeostasis. It has been established that seaweed polysaccharides, which are considered to be prebiotics, are good in preventing dysbiosis of the flora that is found in the gut (Ou et al.). There is evidence to suggest that a mixture of several distinct types of prebiotics can stimulate the growth of thick-walled bacteria while at the same time suppressing the growth of bacteria that are potentially pathogenic (Enterobacteriaceae) (Grazul, Kanda and Gondek). Herbal extracts that have the effect of modulating tight junction proteins and increasing the abundance of beneficial bacteria can also achieve the purpose of regulating the balance of human microbiota (L. Jin et al.), as indicated by experiments that were conducted on both cells and animals. Researchers from all over the world have come to the same conclusion, which is that certain strains of bacteria that have been isolated from the gut flora of certain animals have the ability to degrade MPs. It has been shown that bacteria that are naturally found in the digestive tracts of earthworms have the ability to lessen the overall size of MPs (Lwanga et al.). The ability to breakdown microplastics was discovered in Enterobacteriaceae strains that were isolated from the digestive tracts of wax moths (Ren et al.). According to the reports that are currently available, we are able to determine that the majority of the components that achieve the effect of repairing the intestinal barrier are active substances and have some kind of antibacterial effect. This opens up new doors for research into the screening of substances that have the ability to effectively mitigate any damage to the intestinal barrier that may occur in the future.


The gut is an essential location for measuring the toxicity of environmental contaminants. The accumulation of contaminants in the digestive tract creates problems for the intestinal barrier and has the potential to adversely damage health. Underestimating the environmental contaminants that exist may indicate the presence of potential health risks. In the future, it could be a good idea to investigate certain active substances and intestinal flora in order to cut down on the amount of environmental toxins that have collected in the intestinal tract of the body.


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