Impact of anatase and rutile titanium dioxide nanoparticles on uptake carriers and efflux pumps in Caco-2 gut epithelial cells
TiO2 microparticles are widely used in food products, where they are added as a white food colouring agent. This food additive contains a significant amount of nanoscale particles; still the impact of TiO2 nanoparticles (TiO2-NPs) on gut cells is poorly documented. Our study aimed at evaluating the impact of rutile and anatase TiO2-NPs on the main functions of enterocytes, i.e. nutrient absorption driven by solute-liquid carriers (SLC transporters) and protection against other xenobiotics driven by efflux pumps from the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) family. We show that acute exposure of Caco-2 cells to both anatase (12 nm) and rutile (20 nm) TiO2-NPs induce early upregulation of a battery of efflux pumps and nutrient transporters. In addition they cause overproduction of reactive oxygen species and misbalance redox repair systems, without inducing cell mortality or DNA damage. Taken together, these data suggest that TiO2-NPs may increase the functionality of gut epithelial cells, particularly their property to form a protective barrier against exogenous toxicants and to absorb nutrients.