Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Mahesh M. Narayan


The persistent presence of micro (nano) plastics in our environment has raised concerns regarding potential health risks associated with human exposure. With the extensive use of plastic materials and the widespread consumption of plastic-contaminated food items, two types of microplastics, polystyrene (PS) and polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), have attracted increased attention. While the adverse effects of microplastics on animals and marine life have been extensively studied, their potential impact on human health remains largely unexplored. Specifically, the interaction between microplastics and biomolecules within the human body and their effect on human health have yet to be comprehensively investigated. This dissertation study focuses on the effects of nanoplastics (NPs) on significant human proteins, specifically the milk proteins alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactoglobulin from cow's milk. We conducted an assessment to understand how commonly encountered NPs, such as PS and PMMA, might influence the structural and functional characteristics of these proteins. Our primary goal was to investigate whether PS and PMMA have any discernible effects at the molecular level. Our research study encompasses both in vitro and in vivo approaches to comprehensively evaluate the impact of NPs on human health. Additionally, cell cytotoxicity tests have been conducted to assess the potential toxic effects of NPs on human cells. Furthermore, we extended our study to in vivo evaluations, employing the well-established model organism, Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). This in vivo approach allows us to investigate the effects of NPs on a whole organism level, focusing on neurodegeneration as a key endpoint. To gain deeper insights into the interaction, we conducted molecular dynamics studies aimed at discerning the binding site of PS with the protein. The findings from this study have far-reaching implications in the context of plastic pollution and its potential consequences on human health. The experimental framework presented in this study paves the way for further investigations into the broader impact of nanoplastics on various biological systems, enriching our ability to safeguard human health in an increasingly plastic-contaminated world.




Recieved from ProQuest

File Size

125 p.

File Format


Rights Holder

Afroz Karim

Included in

Biochemistry Commons