Micro and nanosize plastic polymers degrading from large plastic compounds are accumulating in the natural environment and expose potential biological threats to human health. These particles are largely persistent and consequently accumulate in the exposed individuals. The presence of microplastics has already been demonstrated in various human organs including the lung, the gastrointestinal system and the blood raising concerns about their possible harmful effects. The chemical composition, size and shape of microplastics as well as their weathering status represent important factors influencing the potential impact of microplastics on tissues. In addition, microplastics can function as vectors for adsorbed chemical compounds and may harbour and deliver live microbial pathogens or their ligands. In vitro and in vivo animal studies demonstrated that microplastics are taken up to cells in a size and cell type dependent manner. Once inside the targeted cell they activate oxidative processes, mitochondrial dysfunction and ER-stress. These molecular processes result in the activation or repression of cell type specific functions and potentially in the induction of cytotoxicity. The microplastic elicited events may result in inflammation, organ damage and fibrosis of the targeted organs as well as in systemic immunological and metabolic conditions. In addition, microplastics may impact on the gut microbiota which may exert further gastrointestinal and systemic metabolic and immunological effects. In this minireview, we evaluate the factors and mechanisms that influence potential microplastic induced cellular and organ pathologies in humans and discuss limitations of current understanding regarding microplastic elicited conditions as well as future perspectives for research.

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