Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles: a Risk for Human Health?

Mini Rev Med Chem. 2016;16(9):762-9. doi: 10.2174/1389557516666160321114341.


Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a natural oxide of the element titanium with low toxicity, and negligible biological effects. The classification as bio-inert material has given the possibility to normal-sized (>100 nm) titanium dioxide particles (TiO2-NPs) to be extensively used in food products and as ingredients in a wide range of pharmaceutical products and cosmetics, such as sunscreens and toothpastes. Therefore, human exposure may occur through ingestion and dermal penetration, or through inhalation route, during both the manufacturing process and use. In spite of the extensively use of TiO2-NPs, the biological effects and the cellular response mechanisms are still not completely elucidated and thus a deep understanding of the toxicological profile of this compound is required. The main mechanism underlining the toxicity potentially triggered by TiO2-NPs seems to involve the reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, resulting in oxidative stress, inflammation, genotoxicity, metabolic change and potentially carcinogenesis. The extent and type of cell damage strongly depend on chemical and physical characteristics of TiO2-NPs, including size, crystal structure and photo-activation. In this mini-review, we would like to discuss the latest findings on the adverse effects and on potential human health risks induced by TiO2-NPs exposure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cosmetics / adverse effects
  • Cosmetics / metabolism
  • Food Safety
  • Humans
  • Nanoparticles / adverse effects*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Nanoparticles / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Particle Size
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Risk Factors
  • Titanium / adverse effects*
  • Titanium / chemistry
  • Titanium / metabolism


  • Cosmetics
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • titanium dioxide
  • Titanium