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Nanotoxicology. 2015 May;9(3):373-80. doi: 10.3109/17435390.2014.940404. Epub 2014 Jul 24.

Using physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modeling for dietary risk assessment of titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles.

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ETH Zurich, Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering , Zurich , Switzerland.


Nano-sized titanium dioxide particles (nano-TiO2) can be found in a large number of foods and consumer products, such as cosmetics and toothpaste, thus, consumer exposure occurs via multiple sources, possibly involving different exposure routes. In order to determine the disposition of nano-TiO2 particles that are taken up, a physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model was developed. High priority was placed on limiting the number of parameters to match the number of underlying data points (hence to avoid overparameterization), but still reflecting available mechanistic information on the toxicokinetics of nano-TiO2. To this end, the biodistribution of nano-TiO2 was modeled based on their ability to cross the capillary wall of the organs and to be phagocytosed in the mononuclear phagocyte system (MPS). The model's predictive power was evaluated by comparing simulated organ levels to experimentally assessed organ levels of independent in vivo studies. The results of our PBPK model indicate that: (1) within the application domain of the PBPK model from 15 to 150 nm, the size and crystalline structure of the particles had a minor influence on the biodistribution; and (2) at high internal exposure the particles agglomerate in vivo and are subsequently taken up by macrophages in the MPS. Furthermore, we also give an example on how the PBPK model may be used for risk assessment. For this purpose, the daily dietary intake of nano-TiO2 was calculated for the German population. The PBPK model was then used to convert this chronic external exposure into internal titanium levels for each organ.


Biodistribution; E171; German population; PBTK model; toxicokinetics

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