Potential impact of inorganic nanoparticles on macronutrient digestion: titanium dioxide nanoparticles slightly reduce lipid digestion under simulated gastrointestinal conditions

<p>Titanium dioxide (TiO<sub>2</sub>) particles are used in some food products to alter their optical properties, such as whiteness or brightness. These additives typically contain a population of TiO<sub>2</sub> nanoparticles (<i>d</i> < 100 nm), which has led to concern about their potential toxicity. The objective of this study was to examine the impact of TiO<sub>2</sub> particles on the gastrointestinal fate of oil-in-water emulsions using a simulated gastrointestinal tract (GIT) that includes mouth, stomach, and small intestine phases. Theoretical predictions suggested that TiO<sub>2</sub> nanoparticles might inhibit lipid digestion through two physicochemical mechanisms: (i) a fraction of the lipase adsorbs to TiO<sub>2</sub> particle surfaces, thereby reducing the amount available to hydrolyze lipid droplets; (ii) some TiO<sub>2</sub> particles adsorb to the surfaces of lipid droplets, thereby reducing the lipid surface area exposed to lipase. The importance of these mechanisms was tested by passing protein-coated lipid droplets (2%, w/w) through the simulated GIT in the absence and presence of TiO<sub>2</sub> (0.5%, w/w) nanoparticles (18 nm) and fine particles (167 nm). Changes in particle characteristics (size, organization, and charge) and lipid digestion were then measured. Both TiO<sub>2</sub> nanoparticles and fine particles had little impact on the aggregation state and charge of the lipid droplets in the different GIT regions, as well as on the rate and extent of lipid digestion. This suggests that the theoretically predicted impact of particle size on lipid digestion was not seen in practice.</p>