Titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2NPs) suspensions (concentration 1.0 g/L) in synthetic sweat solution were applied on Franz cells for 24 h using intact and needle-abraded human skin. Titanium content into skin and receiving phases was determined. Cytotoxicity (MTT, AlamarBlue(®) and propidium iodide, PI, uptake assays) was evaluated on HaCat keratinocytes after 24 h, 48 h, and seven days of exposure. After 24 h of exposure, no titanium was detectable in receiving solutions for both intact and damaged skin. Titanium was found in the epidermal layer after 24 h of exposure (0.47 ± 0.33 μg/cm(2)) while in the dermal layer, the concentration was below the limit of detection. Damaged skin, in its whole, has shown a similar concentration (0.53 ± 0.26 μg/cm(2)). Cytotoxicity studies on HaCaT cells demonstrated that TiO2NPs induced cytotoxic effects only at very high concentrations, reducing cell viability after seven days of exposure with EC50s of 8.8 × 10(-4) M (MTT assay), 3.8 × 10(-5) M (AlamarBlue(®) assay), and 7.6 × 10(-4) M (PI uptake, index of a necrotic cell death). Our study demonstrated that TiO2NPs cannot permeate intact and damaged skin and can be found only in the stratum corneum and epidermis. Moreover, the low cytotoxic effect observed on human HaCaT keratinocytes suggests that these nano-compounds have a potential toxic effect at the skin level only after long-term exposure.
Keywords: cytotoxicity; human skin absorption; in vitro; nanoparticles (NPs); titanium dioxide.