Commonly used food additive could alter digestive cell structure and function.
A new study published in the journal NanoImpact reports that the ability of small intestine cells to absorb nutrients and act as a barrier to pathogens is significantly decreased after chronic exposure to nano particles of titanium dioxide (E171). E171 is a food additive commonly found in sweets, chewing gum, bread, cottage and mozzarella cheese and some sauces. As a white substance it is often used as a pigment in foods, paints, toothpaste and sun creams to make them appear whiter.
Researchers exposed Intestinal cell cultures to nano particles of titanium dioxide, over 4 hours to 1 meal's worth (acute exposure) and 3 meal's worth over 5 days (chronic exposure). They found that whilst acute exposures did not have much effect, chronic exposure diminished the absorptive projections on the surface of Intestinal cells. The Intestinal barrier was weakened, metabolism slowed and nutrients including iron, zinc and fatty acids were difficult to absorb. Inflammation signals also increased significantly.
About the journal: NanoImpact is a multidisciplinary journal that focuses on nano safety research and areas related to the impacts of manufactured nano materials on human and environmental systems.