(micro)2 coronaAdvanced characterization of biomolecular corona on micro and nanoplastics in the anaerobic intestinal microbiome and its consequences on the intestinal epithelium

Micro and nanoplastics (MNPs) are widespread pollutants in the environment, including our food. MNPs that are in contact with a complex matrix, like food or intestinal digestive juices, will be covered with a biofilm of biomolecules, the biomolecular corona. Proteins in the biocorona are known to modify the intestinal uptake of MNPs. This can have adverse human health effects. Very limited data is available on the presence of other biomolecules, like fats and bile acids, in the corona on MNPs. Whether this has consequences for intestinal uptake of MNPs is largely unknown.


This project aims to extent the current protein biocorona characterisation on MNPs towards other biomolecules. Also the corona formation and its biological implications will be studied.


In this project experiments will be performed under anaerobic intestinal conditions, whereby a mixture of particles, including MNPs and biomolecules, will interact with intestinal epithelial cells and a microbial community. Researchers will analyze the biocorona and examine the consequences for absorption and possible damage to the intestinal epithelial cells. In the study a model of human intestines is used.

The researchers will analyze:

  1. the MNPs characteristics by using a range of analytical methods (i.e. DLS, and μRAMAN confocal microscopy);
  2. the components of the MNPs biofilms by a suite of analytical methods that allow the detection of (short chain) fatty acids, bile acids and (microbial) proteins;
  3. the population dynamics and metabolic capacity of the intestinal microbiome;
  4. the effects on intestinal cell layer.

Collaboration partners

This project is carried out by dr. ir. H. Bouwmeester from Wageningen University, in collaboration with University of Amsterdam, Wageningen Food Safety Research and Nanonium.

(Expected) results

The formed biocorona is expected to increases the cellular uptake of MNP. The researchers also expect that the presence of microbial metabolites can act as Pathogen Associated Molecular Patterns (PAMPS) and thus increase the secretion of inflammatory signalling molecules by epithelial cells in vitro.


The output of the project will be aligned with the MOMENTUM project. This project will fill an important knowledge gap for the risk assessment of MNPs to humans following oral exposure.


Project number:
Duration: 35%
Duration: 35 %
Part of programme:
Project lead and secretary:
dr. ir. H bouwmeester
Responsible organisation:
Wageningen University & Research