Titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles (NPs) are manufactured worldwide in large quantities for use in a wide range of applications. Evaluating the hazards associated with TiO2 NPs is crucial as it enables risk assessment related to human and environmental exposure. In this study the in vitro human toxicity of a set of TiO2 NPs modified with acetic, oleic and boric acids were studied in order to assess the hazard in view of a future scale-up of the synthesis. The surface reactivity of the powders under simulated solar illumination and in the dark has been evaluated by means of EPR spectroscopy. Human bronchial epithelial cells (BEAS-2B) have been chosen as a model for lung epithelium. Cytotoxicity has been assessed by measuring the cells membrane integrity by lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) assay, and the inflammatory response evaluated as nitric oxide (NO) and TNF-α production, and oxidative stress measured as intracellular reduced glutathione (GSH) levels, and induced lipoperoxidation. Aeroxide P25 was used for comparison. The results demonstrated a low photoreactivity and toxic effects lower than Aeroxide P25 of the nano-TiO2 powders, probably as a consequence of the presence of acidic moieties at the surface.
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