Titanium dioxide (TiO₂) nanoparticles are widely used in cosmetics, sunscreens, biomedicine, and food products. When used as a food additive, TiO₂ nanoparticles are used in significant amounts as white food-coloring agents. However, the effects of TiO₂ nanoparticles on the gastrointestinal tract remain unclear. The present study was designed to determine the effects of five TiO₂ particles of different crystal structures and sizes in human epithelial colorectal adenocarcinoma (Caco-2) cells and THP-1 monocyte-derived macrophages. Twenty-four-hour exposure to anatase (primary particle size: 50 and 100 nm) and rutile (50 nm) TiO₂ particles reduced cellular viability in a dose-dependent manner in THP-1 macrophages, but in not Caco-2 cells. However, 72-h exposure of Caco-2 cells to anatase (50 nm) TiO₂ particles reduced cellular viability in a dose-dependent manner. The highest dose (50 µg/mL) of anatase (100 nm), rutile (50 nm), and P25 TiO₂ particles also reduced cellular viability in Caco-2 cells. The production of reactive oxygen species tended to increase in both types of cells, irrespective of the type of TiO₂ particle. Exposure of THP-1 macrophages to 50 µg/mL of anatase (50 nm) TiO₂ particles increased interleukin (IL)-1β expression level, and exposure of Caco-2 cells to 50 µg/mL of anatase (50 nm) TiO₂ particles also increased IL-8 expression. The results indicated that anatase TiO₂ nanoparticles induced inflammatory responses compared with other TiO₂ particles. Further studies are required to determine the in vivo relevance of these findings to avoid the hazards of ingested particles.
Keywords: food additive; inflammation; intestinal epithelium; macrophage; nanoparticles; reactive oxygen species; titanium dioxide.