Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 2011; 15 (5): 481-508

Toxicological effects of titanium dioxide nanoparticles: a review of in vitro mammalian studies

I. Iavicoli, V. Leso, L. Fontana, A. Bergamaschi

Institute of Occupational Medicine, School of Medicine, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome (Italy)

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Recent rapid advances in nanotechnology raise concerns about development, production route, and diffusion in industrial and consumer products of titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2-NPs). In fact, compared to recent increase in applications of this nanomaterial, the health effects of human exposure have not been systematically investigated. The aim of this review was to provide a comprehensive overview on the current knowledge regarding the effects of TiO2-NPs on mammalian cells.

EVIDENCE AND INFORMATION SOURCES: This review is based on an analysis of the current literature on this topic.

STATE OF THE ART: Fine TiO2 particles have been considered as safe and to pose little risk to humans, suggesting that exposure to this material is relatively harmless. However, available data in the literature showed that TiO2-NPs can cause several adverse effects on mammalian cells such as increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and cytokines levels, reduction of cell viability and proliferation, induction of apoptosis and genotoxicity.

PERSPECTIVES AND CONCLUSIONS: Additional research is needed to obtain up-to-date knowledge on health effects of TiO2-NPs and to avoid any potential risk correlated to their exposure. Consequently, future studies need to: (1) use an homogeneous and rigorous exposure classification to clarify how the physicochemical properties of TiO2-NPs correlate with their toxicological effects; (2) assess the potential adverse effects of low level exposures to TiO2-NPs, as most of the information currently available originates from studies in which exposure levels were excessively and unrealistically high; (3) identify the possible roles of TiO2-NPs in genotoxicity and carcinogenicity (4) carry out epidemiologic studies of exposed workers to provide an assessment of possible risks correlated to the occupational exposure to TiO2-NPs.

Corresponding Author: Ivo Iavicoli MD, PhD; e-mail:

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I. Iavicoli, V. Leso, L. Fontana, A. Bergamaschi
Toxicological effects of titanium dioxide nanoparticles: a review of in vitro mammalian studies

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci
Year: 2011
Vol. 15 - N. 5
Pages: 481-508