Dysregulation along the Gut Microbiota-Immune System Axis after Oral Exposure to Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles: A Possible Environmental Factor Promoting Obesity-related Metabolic Disorders

Bruno Lamas, Lauris Evariste and Eric Houdeau

Food additives are one major hallmark of ultra-processed food in the Western-diet, a food habit often associated with metabolic disorders. Among these additives, the whitener and opacifying agent titanium dioxide (TiO2) raises public health issues due to the ability of TiO2 nanoparticles (NPs) to cross biological barriers and accu- mulate in different systemic organs like spleen, liver and pancreas. However before their systemic passage, the biocidal properties of TiO2 NPs may alter the composition and activity of the gut microbiota, which play a crucial role for the development and maintenance of immune functions. Once absorbed, TiO2 NPs may further interact with immune intestinal cells involved in gut microbiota regulation. Since obesity-related metabolic diseases such as diabetes are associated with alterations in the microbiota-immune system axis, this raises questions about the possible involvement of long-term exposure to food-grade TiO2 in the development or worsening of these dis- eases. The current purpose is to review the dysregulations along the gut microbiota-immune system axis after oral TiO2 exposure compared to those reported in obese or diabetic patients, and to highlight potential mech- anisms by which foodborne TiO2 NPs may increase the susceptibility to develop obesity-related metabolic disorders.

Image: Katie Rainbow 🏳️‍🌈 @ Unsplash

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