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Toxic effects of titanium dioxide nanoparticles in rats

Science | Researchers
Research Spotlight: Toxic effects of titanium dioxide nanoparticles in rats

Metabonomic analysis shows titanium dioxide nanoparticles cause metabolic changes in rats even at low doses.

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles are used as a white pigment in many household items including food, toothpaste, paper, and paint, yet there is little information on their impact on human and animal health.

The authors of a study published in the Journal of Toxicology highlighted the increased use of nanotechnology, including nanoparticles, across fields such as medicine, cosmetics, and textiles industries, noting that despite this wide range of applications and daily exposure to these particles, their impact on animal and human health and on the environment is unclear.

To highlight the possible toxic effect of TiO2 nanoparticles, a team of researchers at the University of Mons and the Center for Microscopy and Molecular Imaging, Belgium administered rats with different doses of TiO2 nanoparticles by intraperitoneal injection. The rats were then euthanized at 4 days, 1 month, and 2 months after treatment.

Metabonomic analysis was coupled with hematology and histopathology to allow the detection of minute biochemical variations in urine before injuries are revealed in histopathological examination. Levels of titanium in renal and hepatic tissues were measured using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES), which revealed significant accumulation of nanoparticles in the liver, and morphological and physiological alterations in liver and kidneys.

The authors concluded that at high doses, TiO2 nanoparticles caused detectable histological changes, including mitochondrial dysfunction, clearly related to oxidative stress which was not observed at lower doses. However, an increase in mitochondrial metabolism was demonstrated even in rats treated at low doses. In addition, the observations indicate the relevance and sensitivity of the metabonomic approach in studying metabolic effects of nanomaterial exposure.

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This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Illustration by David Jury.

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