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Effects of the physicochemical properties of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, commonly used as sun protection agents, on microvascular endothelial cells

: Strobel, Claudia; Torrano, Adriano A.; Herrmann, Rudolf; Malissek, Marcelina; Bräuchle, Christoph; Reller, Armin; Treuel, Lennart; Hilger, Ingrid


Journal of nanoparticle research 16 (2014), Art. 2130, 16 pp.
ISSN: 1388-0764
ISSN: 1572-896X
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG
SPP 1313;
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ICT-IMM ()
endothelial cells; evironmental and health effects; nanoparticle; nanotoxicology; sun protection agent; titanium dioxide

Until now, the potential effects of titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles on endothelial cells are not well understood, despite their already wide usage. Therefore, the present work characterizes six TiO2 nanoparticle samples in the size range of 19 × 17 to 87 × 13 nm, which are commonly present in sun protection agents with respect to their physicochemical properties (size, shape, ζ-potential, agglomeration, sedimentation, surface coating, and surface area), their interactions with serum proteins and biological impact on human microvascular endothelial cells (relative cellular dehydrogenase activity, adenosine triphosphate content, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 release). We observed no association of nanoparticle morphology with the agglomeration and sedimentation behavior and no variations of the ζ-potential (−14 to −19 mV) in dependence on the surface coating. In general, the impact on endothelial cells was low and only detectable at concentrations of 100 μg/ml. Particles containing a rutile core and having rod-like shape had a stronger effect on cell metabolism than those with anatase core and elliptical shape (relative cellular dehydrogenase activity after 72 h: 60 vs. 90 %). Besides the morphology, the nanoparticle shell constitution was found to influence the metabolic activity of the cells. Upon cellular uptake, the nanoparticles were localized perinuclearly. Considering that in the in vivo situation endothelial cells would come in contact with considerably lower nanoparticle amounts than the lowest-observable adverse effects level (100 μg/ml), TiO2 nanoparticles can be considered as rather harmless to humans under the investigated conditions.