Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Part Fibre Toxicol. 2007 Aug 29;4:7.

Re-evaluation of pulmonary titanium dioxide nanoparticle distribution using the "relative deposition index": Evidence for clearance through microvasculature.

Author information

  • 1Institute of Anatomy, University of Bern, Baltzerstrasse 2, CH-3000 Bern 9, Switzerland.



Translocation of nanoparticles (NP) from the pulmonary airways into other pulmonary compartments or the systemic circulation is controversially discussed in the literature. In a previous study it was shown that titanium dioxide (TiO2) NP were "distributed in four lung compartments (air-filled spaces, epithelium/endothelium, connective tissue, capillary lumen) in correlation with compartment size". It was concluded that particles can move freely between these tissue compartments. To analyze whether the distribution of TiO2 NP in the lungs is really random or shows a preferential targeting we applied a newly developed method for comparing NP distributions.


Rat lungs exposed to an aerosol containing TiO2 NP were prepared for light and electron microscopy at 1 h and at 24 h after exposure. Numbers of TiO2 NP associated with each compartment were counted using energy filtering transmission electron microscopy. Compartment size was estimated by unbiased stereology from systematically sampled light micrographs. Numbers of particles were related to compartment size using a relative deposition index and chi-squared analysis.


Nanoparticle distribution within the four compartments was not random at 1 h or at 24 h after exposure. At 1 h the connective tissue was the preferential target of the particles. At 24 h the NP were preferentially located in the capillary lumen.


We conclude that TiO2 NP do not move freely between pulmonary tissue compartments, although they can pass from one compartment to another with relative ease. The residence time of NP in each tissue compartment of the respiratory system depends on the compartment and the time after exposure. It is suggested that a small fraction of TiO2 NP are rapidly transported from the airway lumen to the connective tissue and subsequently released into the systemic circulation.

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center