Genotoxic and cell-transforming effects of titanium dioxide nanoparticles

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The in vitro genotoxic and the soft-agar anchorage independent cell transformation ability of titanium dioxide nanoparticles (nano-TiO2) and its microparticulated form has been evaluated in human embryonic kidney (HEK293) and in mouse embryonic fibroblast (NIH/3T3) cells. Nano-TiO2 of two different sizes (21 and 50 nm) were used in this study. The comet assay, with and without the use of FPG enzyme, the micronucleus assay and the soft-agar colony assay were used. For both the comet assay and the frequency of micronuclei a statistically significant induction of DNA damage, was observed at the highest dose tested (1000 μg/mL). No oxidative DNA damage induction was observed when the comet assay was complemented with the use of FPG enzyme. Furthermore, long-term exposure to nano-TiO2 has also proved to induce cell-transformation promoting cell-anchorage independent growth in soft-agar. Results were similar for the two nano-TiO2 sizes. Negative results were obtained when the microparticulated form of TiO2 was tested, indicating the existence of important differences between the microparticulated and nanoparticulated forms. As a conclusion it should be indicated that the observed genotoxic/tranforming effects were only detected at the higher dose tested (1000 μg/mL) what play down the real risk of environmental exposures to this nanomaterial.

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