Comparative Toxicological Evaluation of Tattoo Inks on Two Model Organisms

Biology (Basel). 2021 Dec 9;10(12):1308. doi: 10.3390/biology10121308.


Tattooing is a technique that introduces colored substances under the skin in order to color it permanently. Decomposition products of tattoo pigments produce numerous damages for the skin and other organs. We studied the effects of a commercial red ink tattoo, PR170, on Xenopus laevis embryos and Daphnia magna nauplii using concentrations of 10, 20, and 40 mg/L. For Xenopus, we applied the FETAX protocol analyzing survival, malformations, growth, heart rate, and the expression of genes involved in the development. In D. magna, we evaluated the toxicity with an immobilization test. Moreover, we investigated the production of ROS, antioxidant enzymes, and the expression of the ATP-binding cassette in both models. Our results indicate that PR170 pigment has nanoparticle dimensions, modifies the survival and the ATP-binding cassette activity, and induces oxidative stress that probably produces the observed effects in both models. Deformed embryos were observed in Xenopus, probably due to the modification of expression of genes involved in development. The expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines was also modified in this amphibian. We think that these effects are due to the accumulation of PR170 and, in particular, to the presence of the azoic group in the chemical structure of this pigment. Further studies needed to better understand the effects of commercial tattoo inks.

Keywords: Daphnia magna; Xenopus laevis; gene expression; multixenobiotic resistance; oxidative stress; toxicity.