Up to 44% of particulates of food-grade titanium dioxide (TiO2) are in nanoscale, while the effect and combined effect of which with other substances on intestinal barrier haven’t been fully understood yet. This study is aimed to study the effect of two kinds of TiO2 nanoparticles (TiO2 NPs and TiO2 MPs) on intestinal barrier functions, to reveal the combined effect of TiO2 NPs and Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on intestinal barrier.
Male ICR mice were randomly divided into 18 groups (3 feed types * 3 exposure length * 2 LPS dosage) and were fed with normal or TiO2-mixed feed (containing 1% (mass fraction, w/w) TiO2 NPs or TiO2 MPs) for 1, 3, 6 months, followed by a single oral administration of 0 or 10 mg/(kg body weight) LPS. Four hours later, the transportation of TiO2, the intestinal barrier functions and the inflammatory response were evaluated.
Both TiO2 notably increased the intestinal villi height / crypt depth ratios after 1 and 3 months of exposure, and increased the expression of ileal tight junction proteins (ZO-1 and occludin) after 1 month of exposure. After 6 months of exposure, TiO2 NPs led to reduced feed consumption, TiO2 MPs caused spare microvilli in small intestine and elevated Ti content in the blood cells. The intestinal permeability didn’t change in both TiO2 exposed groups. After LPS administration, we observed altered intestinal villi height / crypt depth ratios, lowered intestinal permeability (DAO) and upregulated expression of ileal ZO-1 in both (TiO2 +LPS) exposed groups. There are no significant changes of ileal or serum cytokines except for a higher serum TNF-α level in LPS treated group. The antagonistic effect was found between TiO2 NPs and LPS, but there are complicated interactions between TiO2 MPs and LPS.
Long-term intake of food additive TiO2 could alter the intestinal epithelial structure without influencing intestinal barrier function. Co-exposure of TiO2 and LPS would enhance intestinal barrier function without causing notable inflammatory responses, and there is antagonistic effect between TiO2 NPs and LPS. All the minor effects observed might associate with the gentle exposure method where TiO2 being ingested with feed.