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posted on 03.01.2022, 05:32 authored by Francesca Mancuso, Iva Arato, Alessandro Di Michele, Cinzia Antognelli, Luca Angelini, Catia Bellucci, Cinzia Lilli, Simona Boncompagni, Aurora Fusella, Desirée Bartolini, Carla Russo, Massimo Moretti, Morena Nocchetti, Angela Gambelunghe, Giacomo Muzi, Tiziano Baroni, Stefano Giovagnoli, Giovanni Luca

The increasing use of nanomaterials in a variety of industrial, commercial, medical products, and their environmental spreading has raised concerns regarding their potential toxicity on human health. Titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2 NPs) represent one of the most commonly used nanoparticles. Emerging evidence suggested that exposure to TiO2 NPs induced reproductive toxicity in male animals. In this in vitro study, porcine prepubertal Sertoli cells (SCs) have undergone acute (24 h) and chronic (from 1 up to 3 weeks) exposures at both subtoxic (5 µg/ml) and toxic (100 µg/ml) doses of TiO2 NPs. After performing synthesis and characterization of nanoparticles, we focused on SCs morphological/ultrastructural analysis, apoptosis, and functionality (AMH, inhibin B), ROS production and oxidative DNA damage, gene expression of antioxidant enzymes, proinflammatory/immunomodulatory cytokines, and MAPK kinase signaling pathway. We found that 5 µg/ml TiO2 NPs did not induce substantial morphological changes overtime, but ultrastructural alterations appeared at the third week. Conversely, SCs exposed to 100 µg/ml TiO2 NPs throughout the whole experiment showed morphological and ultrastructural modifications. TiO2 NPs exposure, at each concentration, induced the activation of caspase-3 at the first and second week. AMH and inhibin B gene expression significantly decreased up to the third week at both concentrations of nanoparticles. The toxic dose of TiO2 NPs induced a marked increase of intracellular ROS and DNA damage at all exposure times. At both concentrations, the increased gene expression of antioxidant enzymes such as SOD and HO-1 was observed whereas, at the toxic dose, a clear proinflammatory stress was evaluated along with the steady increase in the gene expression of IL-1α and IL-6. At both concentrations, an increased phosphorylation ratio of p-ERK1/2 was observed up to the second week followed by the increased phosphorylation ratio of p-NF-kB in the chronic exposure. Although in vitro, this pilot study highlights the adverse effects even of subtoxic dose of TiO2 NPs on porcine prepubertal SCs functionality and viability and, more importantly, set the basis for further in vivo studies, especially in chronic exposure at subtoxic dose of TiO2 NPs, a condition closer to the human exposure to this nanoagent.

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