Pro-inflammatory adjuvant properties of pigment-grade titanium dioxide particles are augmented by a genotype that potentiates interleukin 1β processing.

09 Feb 2018

Background. Pigment-grade titanium dioxide (TiO2) particles are an additive to some foods (E171 on ingredients lists), toothpastes, and pharma-/nutraceuticals and are absorbed, to some extent, in the human intestinal tract. TiO2 can act as a modest adjuvant in the secretion of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin 1β (IL-1β) when triggered by common intestinal bacterial fragments, such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and/or peptidoglycan. Given the variance in human genotypes, which includes variance in genes related to IL-1β secretion, we investigated whether TiO2 particles might, in fact, be more potent pro-inflammatory adjuvants in cells that are genetically susceptible to IL-1β-related inflammation. Methods. We studied bone marrow-derived macrophages from mice with a mutation in the nucleotide-binding oligomerisation domain-containing 2 gene (Nod2m/m), which exhibit heightened secretion of IL-1β in response to the peptidoglycan fragment muramyl dipeptide (MDP). To ensure relevance to human exposure, TiO2 was food-grade anatase (119 ± 45 nm mean diameter ± standard deviation). We used a short ‘pulse and chase’ format: pulsing with LPS and chasing with TiO2 +/− MDP or peptidoglycan. Results. IL-1β secretion was not stimulated in LPS-pulsed bone marrow-derived macrophages, or by chasing with MDP, and only very modestly so by chasing with peptidoglycan. In all cases, however, IL-1β secretion was augmented by chasing with TiO2 in a dose-dependent fashion (5–100 µg/mL). When co-administered with MDP or peptidoglycan, IL-1β secretion was further enhanced for the Nod2m/m genotype. Tumour necrosis factor α was triggered by LPS priming, and more so for the Nod2m/m genotype. This was enhanced by chasing with TiO2, MDP, or peptidoglycan, but there was no additive effect between the bacterial fragments and TiO2.