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J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Jun 12;61(23):5590-9. doi: 10.1021/jf3035989. Epub 2013 May 29.

Toxicological mechanisms of nanosized titanium dioxide-induced spleen injury in mice after repeated peroral application.

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  • 1Medical College of Soochow University, Suzhou 215123, China.


Due to an increase in surface area per particle weight, nanosized titanium dioxide (nano-TiO2) has greatly increased its function as a catalyst and is used for whitening and brightening foods. However, concerns over the safety of nano-TiO2 have been raised. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the protein kinase MAPKs/PI3-K/Akt signaling pathways and transcription factors are activated prior to or concurrent with COX-2 up-regulation in mouse spleen following exposure to 10 mg/kg BW of pure anatase nano-TiO2 by the intragastric route for 15-90 days. The study clearly showed that nano-TiO2 was deposited in the spleen and resulted in reactive oxygen species production, time-dependent splenic inflammation, and necrosis, coupled with a 12.64-64.06% increase in COX-2 and prostaglandin E2 expression, respectively. Furthermore, nano-TiO2 elevated the expressions of ERK, AP-1, CRE, Akt, JNK2, MAPKs, PI3-K, c-Jun, and c-Fos in the spleen by 1.08-6-fold with increased exposure duration, respectively. These findings suggested that nano-TiO2-induced COX-2 expression may be mediated predominantly through the induction of AP-1 and CRE and that AP-1/CRE induction occurred via the MAPKs/PI3-K/Akt signaling pathways in the spleen. Therefore, the findings suggest the need for caution when using nanomaterials as food additives.

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