In situ quantification of diverse titanium dioxide nanoparticles unveils selective endoplasmic reticulum stress-dependent toxicity

Although titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2 NPs) have been extensively studied, their possible impact on health due to their specific properties supported by their size and geometry, remains to be fully characterized to support risk assessment. To further document NPs biological effects, we investigated the impact of TiO2 NPs morphology on biological outcomes. To this end, TiO2 NPs were synthesized as nanoneedles (NNs), titanate scrolled nanosheets (TNs), gel-sol-based isotropic nanoparticles (INPs) and tested for perturbation of cellular homeostasis (cellular ion content, cell proliferation, stress pathways) in three cell types and compared to the P25. We showed that TiO2 NPs were internalized at various degrees and their toxicity depended on both titanium content and NPs shape, which impacted on intracellular calcium homeostasis thereby leading to endoplasmic reticulum stress. Finally, we showed that a minimal intracellular content of TiO2 NPs was mandatory to induce toxicity enlightening once more the crucial notion of internalized dose threshold beside the well-recognized dose of exposure.