Ultrastructural study of the possible protective effects of milk thistle seeds on the toxic effects of titanium dioxide nanoparticles in cardiac muscle of adult male albino rats

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Titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2NPs) are manufactured worldwide in large quantities for use in many applications, including manufacturing of pigments, plastics, paper, ink, food colorants, toothpastes, and cosmetics. Milk thistle is a herbal supplement used to treat toxic disorders, especially liver damage. Silymarin, an active ingredient of milk thistle, is a strong antioxidant that promotes liver cell regeneration and stabilizes cell membranes.


The aim of this study was to investigate the histological changes in cardiac muscles after administration of different doses of TiO2NPs and the protective role of milk thistle in the possible toxic effects of TiO2NPs.

Materials and methods

The present study was carried out on 15 adult male rats that were divided into five groups: group I, the control group; group IIa, which was injected with 100 mg/kg of TiO2; group IIb, which was treated with milk thistle orally during administration of 100 mg/kg of TiO2; group IIIa, which was injected with 150 mg/kg TiO2; and group IIIb, which was treated with milk thistle orally during administration of 150 mg/kg TiO2.


Changes in cardiomyocytes can be summarized as loss of their normal morphological appearance and appearance of degenerated myofibrils. Cardiomyocytes showed signs of apoptosis and degeneration as well as fragmented myofibrils with nuclear changes. These changes were improved by milk thistle in groups treated with low doses of TiO2.


TiO2NPs are toxic to cardiomyocytes. Milk thistle may be of benefit when added to materials containing TiO2NPs and if used orally. More research is needed to verify the suitable dose and mode of administration of milk thistle.

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