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Endocytosis, intracellular fate, accumulation, and agglomeration of titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles in the rainbow trout liver cell line RTL-W1

Journal article
Authors Tobias Lammel
A. Mackevica
Bengt R Johansson
Joachim Sturve
Published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research
Volume 26
Issue 15
Pages 15354-15372
ISSN 0944-1344
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Institute of Biomedicine
Pages 15354-15372
Language en
Keywords Endocytosis, Particokinetics, Bioaccumulation, Hepatocyte, Fish, oncorhynchus-mykiss, oxidative stress, engineered nanoparticles, multilamellar bodies, prolonged exposure, gene-expression, cytotoxicity, toxicity, size, protein, Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Subject categories Environmental Sciences


There is increasing evidence that titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles (NPs) present in water or diet can be taken up by fish and accumulate in internal organs including the liver. However, their further fate in the organ is unknown. This study provides new insights into the interaction, uptake mechanism, intracellular trafficking, and fate of TiO2 NPs (Aeroxide (R) P25) in fish liver parenchymal cells (RTL-W1) in vitro using high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and single particle inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (spICP-MS) as complementary analytical techniques. The results demonstrate that following their uptake via caveolae-mediated endocytosis, TiO2 NPs were trafficked through different intracellular compartments including early endosomes, multivesicular bodies, and late endosomes/endo-lysosomes, and eventually concentrated inside multilamellar vesicles. TEM and spICP-MS results provide evidence that uptake was nano-specific. Only NPs/NP agglomerates of a specific size range (30-100nm) were endocytosed; larger agglomerates were excluded from uptake and remained located in the extracellular space/exposure medium. NP number and mass inside cells increased linearly with time and was associated with an increase in particle diameter suggesting intracellular agglomeration/aggregation. No alterations in the expression of genes regulated by the redox balance-sensitive transcription factor Nrf-2 including superoxide dismutase, glutamyl cysteine ligase, glutathione synthetase, glutathione peroxidase, and glutathione S-transferase were observed. This shows that, despite the high intracellular NP burden (3.9x10(2)ngTi/mg protein after 24h) and NP-interaction with mitochondria, cellular redox homeostasis was not significantly affected. This study contributes to a better mechanistic understanding of in vitro particokinetics as well as the potential fate and effects of TiO2 NPs in fish liver cells.

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