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Int J Nanomedicine. 2017 Aug 24;12:6197-6204. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S143598. eCollection 2017.

Maternal exposure to nanosized titanium dioxide suppresses embryonic development in mice.

Hong F1,2,3,4, Zhou Y1,2,3,4, Zhao X5, Sheng L5, Wang L6.

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Jiangsu Collaborative Innovation Center of Regional Modern Agriculture and Environmental Protection.
Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Food Safety and Nutritional Function.
Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Eco-Agricultural Biotechnology around Hongze Lake.
School of Life Sciences, Huaiyin Normal University, Huaian.
Medical College of Soochow University, Suzhou.
Library of Soochow University, Suzhou, Jiangsu, China.


Although nanoscale titanium dioxide (nano-TiO2) has been extensively used in industrial food applications and daily products for pregnant women, infants, and children, its potential toxicity on fetal development has been rarely studied. The main objective of this investigation was to establish the effects of maternal exposure of nano-TiO2 on developing embryos. Female imprinting control region mice were orally administered nano-TiO2 from gestational day 0 to 17. Our findings showed that Ti concentrations in maternal serum, placenta, and fetus were increased in nano-TiO2-exposed mice when compared to controls, which resulted in reductions in the contents of calcium and zinc in maternal serum, placenta, and fetus, maternal weight gain, placental weight, fetal weight, number of live fetuses, and fetal crown-rump length as well as cauda length, and caused an increase in the number of both dead fetuses and resorptions. Furthermore, maternal nano-TiO2 exposure inhibited development of the fetal skeleton, suggesting a significant absence of cartilage, reduced or absent ossification, and an increase in the number of fetuses with dysplasia, including exencephaly, spina bifida, coiled tail, scoliosis, rib absence, and sternum absence. These findings indicated that nano-TiO2 can cross the blood-fetal barrier and placental barrier, thereby delaying the development of fetal mice and inducing skeletal malformation. These factors may be associated with reductions in both calcium and zinc in maternal serum and the fetus, and both the placenta and embryos may be major targets of developmental toxicity following maternal exposure to nano-TiO2 during the prenatal period. Therefore, the application of nano-TiO2 should be carried out with caution.


embryonic toxicity; maternal exposure; nanosized titanium dioxide; skeleton developmental suppression

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