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Sci Rep. 2017 Jan 20;7:40373. doi: 10.1038/srep40373.

Food-grade TiO2 impairs intestinal and systemic immune homeostasis, initiates preneoplastic lesions and promotes aberrant crypt development in the rat colon.

Author information

Toxalim (Research Centre in Food Toxicology), Université de Toulouse, INRA, ENVT, INP-Purpan, UPS, Toulouse, France.
Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), Materials Research and Technology (MRT), Advanced Instrumentation for Ion Nano-Analytics (IANA), L-4362 Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg.
Synchrotron SOLEIL, F-91192 Gif-sur-Yvette, France.
French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES), F-94701 Maisons-Alfort, France.
Université Grenoble-Alpes, INAC-LCIB, Laboratoire Lésions des Acides Nucléiques, 17 rue des Martyrs, F-38000 Grenoble, France.
CEA, INAC-SCIB, Laboratoire Lésions des Acides Nucléiques, 17 rue des Martyrs, F-38000 Grenoble, France.


Food-grade titanium dioxide (TiO2) containing a nanoscale particle fraction (TiO2-NPs) is approved as a white pigment (E171 in Europe) in common foodstuffs, including confectionary. There are growing concerns that daily oral TiO2-NP intake is associated with an increased risk of chronic intestinal inflammation and carcinogenesis. In rats orally exposed for one week to E171 at human relevant levels, titanium was detected in the immune cells of Peyer's patches (PP) as observed with the TiO2-NP model NM-105. Dendritic cell frequency increased in PP regardless of the TiO2 treatment, while regulatory T cells involved in dampening inflammatory responses decreased with E171 only, an effect still observed after 100 days of treatment. In all TiO2-treated rats, stimulation of immune cells isolated from PP showed a decrease in Thelper (Th)-1 IFN-γ secretion, while splenic Th1/Th17 inflammatory responses sharply increased. E171 or NM-105 for one week did not initiate intestinal inflammation, while a 100-day E171 treatment promoted colon microinflammation and initiated preneoplastic lesions while also fostering the growth of aberrant crypt foci in a chemically induced carcinogenesis model. These data should be considered for risk assessments of the susceptibility to Th17-driven autoimmune diseases and to colorectal cancer in humans exposed to TiO2 from dietary sources.

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