Year : 2015  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 261-268

Anatase titanium dioxide nanoparticles in mice: evidence for induced structural and functional sperm defects after short-, but not long-, term exposure

1 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA
2 Departments of Physics and Astronomy and of Material Science, Engineering, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA

Correspondence Address:
Patricia A Martin-DeLeon
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1008-682X.143247

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Titanium dioxide (TiO 2 ) nanoparticles (TNPs) are widely used commercially and exist in a variety of products. To determine if anatase TNPs (ATNPs) in doses smaller than previously used reach the scrotum after entry in the body at a distant location and induce sperm defects, 100% ATNP (2.5 or 5 mg kg−1 body weight) was administered intraperitoneally to adult males for three consecutive days, followed by sacrifice 1, 2, 3, or 5 weeks later (long-) or 24, 48 or 120 h (short-term exposure). Transmission electron microscopy revealed the presence of ANTP in scrotal adipose tissues collected 120 h postinjection when cytokine evaluation showed an inflammatory response in epididymal tissues and fluid. At 120 h and up to 3 weeks postinjection, testicular histology revealed enlarged interstitial spaces. Significantly increased numbers of terminal deoxyribonucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling-positive (apoptotic) germ (P = 0.002) and interstitial space cells (P = 0.04) were detected in treated males. Caudal epididymal sperm from the short-term, but not a long-term, arm showed significantly (P < 0.001) increased frequencies of flagellar abnormalities, excess residual cytoplasm (ERC), and unreacted acrosomes in treated versus controls (dose-response relationship). A novel correlation between ERC and unreacted acrosomes was uncovered. At 120 h, there were significant decreases in hyperactivated motility (P < 0.001) and mitochondrial membrane potential (P < 0.05), and increased reactive oxygen species levels (P < 0.00001) in treated versus control sperm. These results indicate that at 4-8 days postinjection, ANTP induce structural and functional sperm defects associated with infertility, and DNA damage via oxidative stress. Sperm defects were transient as they were not detected 10 days to 5 weeks postinjection.

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