Scientific reports

Titanium dioxide nanoparticles stimulate sea urchin immune cell phagocytic activity involving TLR/p38 MAPK-mediated signalling pathway.

PMID 26412401


Titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2NPs) are one of the most widespread-engineered particles in use for drug delivery, cosmetics, and electronics. However, TiO2NP safety is still an open issue, even for ethical reasons. In this work, we investigated the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus immune cell model as a proxy to humans, to elucidate a potential pathway that can be involved in the persistent TiO2NP-immune cell interaction in vivo. Morphology, phagocytic ability, changes in activation/inactivation of a few mitogen-activated protein kinases (p38 MAPK, ERK), variations of other key proteins triggering immune response (Toll-like receptor 4-like, Heat shock protein 70, Interleukin-6) and modifications in the expression of related immune response genes were investigated. Our findings indicate that TiO2NPs influence the signal transduction downstream targets of p38 MAPK without eliciting an inflammatory response or other harmful effects on biological functions. We strongly recommend sea urchin immune cells as a new powerful model for nano-safety/nano-toxicity investigations without the ethical normative issue.