Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 141, Issue 1–3, pp 3–15 | Cite as

Cellular Toxicity of TiO2 Nanoparticles in Anatase and Rutile Crystal Phase

  • Chan Jin
  • Ying Tang
  • F. Guang Yang
  • X. Lin Li
  • Shan Xu
  • X. Yan Fan
  • Y. Ying Huang
  • Y. Ji Yang


Titanium dioxide nanoparticles are massively produced and widely used in daily life, which has posed potential risk to human health. However, the molecular mechanism of TiO2 nanoparticles (NPs) with different crystal phases is not clear. In this study, the characterization of two crystalline phases of TiO2 NPs is evaluated by transmission electron microscopy and X-ray absorption fine structure spectrum; an interaction of these TiO2 NPs with HaCaT cells is studied in vitro using transmission electron microscopy, chemical precipitation method, and X-ray absorption fine structure spectrometry. The coordination and surface properties indicate that only the anatase–TiO2 NPs allow spontaneous reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, but rutile–TiO2 NPs do not after dispersion. The interaction between TiO2 NPs and cellular components might also generate ROS for both anatase–TiO2 NPs and rutile–TiO2 NPs. The ROS generation could lead to cellular toxicity if the level of ROS production overwhelms the antioxidant defense of the cell or induces the mitochondrial apoptotic mechanisms. Furthermore, Ti had a direct combination with some protein or DNA after NPs enter the cell, which could also lead to cellular toxicity.


TiO2 nanoparticles Reactive oxygen species Cell toxicity TEM XAFS 



This work was financially supported by a project supported by the State Key Development Program for Basic Research of China (grant no. 2006CB932505) and project supported by the Shanghai Committee of Science and Technology, China (grant no. 0752nm020). The authors would like to express their thanks to the XAFS station of the Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chan Jin
    • 1
  • Ying Tang
    • 1
  • F. Guang Yang
    • 1
  • X. Lin Li
    • 1
  • Shan Xu
    • 1
  • X. Yan Fan
    • 1
  • Y. Ying Huang
    • 2
  • Y. Ji Yang
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of BiophysicsThe Second Military Medical UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation FacilityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China

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