Toxicol Res.  2012 Dec;28(4):217-224.

Nasal and Pulmonary Toxicity of Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles in Rats

  • 1Inhalation Toxicology Center, Korea Institute of Toxicology Jeongeup Campus, Jeollabuk-do, Korea.
  • 2Major of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Science and Technology, Daejeon, Korea.
  • 3Toxicologic Phathology Center, Korea Institute of Toxicology, Daejeon, Korea.


In recent decades, titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles have been used in various applications, including paints, coatings, and food. However, data are lacking on the toxicological aspects associated with their use. The aim of this study was to assess the inhalation toxicity of TiO2 nanoparticles in rats by using inhalation exposure. Male Wistar rats were exposed to TiO2 nanoparticles for 2 weeks (6 hr/day, 5 days/week) at a mean mass concentration of 11.39 +/- 0.31 mg/m3. We performed time-course necropsies at 1, 7, and 15 days after exposure. Lung inflammation and injury were assessed on the basis of the total and individual cell counts in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), and by biochemical assays, including an assay for lactate dehydrogenase (LDH). Furthermore, histopathological examination was performed to investigate the lungs and nasal cavity of rats. There were no statistically significant changes in the number of BALF cells, results of biochemical assays of BALF and serum, and results of cytokine analysis. However, we did observe histopathological changes in the nasal cavity tissue. Lesions were observed at post-exposure days 1 and 7, which resolved at post-exposure day 15. We also calculated the actual amounts of TiO2 nanoparticles inhaled by the rats. The results showed that the degree of toxicity induced by TiO2 nanoparticles correlated with the delivered quantities. In particular, exposure to small particles with a size of approximately 20 nm resulted in toxicity, even if the total particle number was relatively low.


Titanium dioxide; Nanoparticle; Nose-only exposure; Nasal toxicity; BAL fluid; Lung
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