Genotoxic testing of titanium dioxide anatase nanoparticles using the wing-spot test and the comet assay in Drosophila

Erico R. Carmona, Bibi Escobar, Gerard Vales, Ricard Marcos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


© 2014 Elsevier B.V. Titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2 NPs) are widely used for preparations of sunscreens, cosmetics, food and personal care products. However, the possible genotoxic risk associated with this nano-scale material exposure is not clear, especially in whole organisms. In the present study, we explored the in vivo genotoxic activity of TiO2 NPs as well as their TiO2 bulk form using two well-established genotoxic assays, the wing spot test and the comet assay in Drosophila melanogaster. To determine the extent of tissue damage induced by TiO2 NPs in Drosophila larvae, the trypan blue dye exclusion test was also applied. Both compounds were supplied to third instar larvae by ingestion at concentration ranging from 0.08 to 1.60mg/mL. The results obtained in the present study indicate that TiO2 NPs can reach and induce cytotoxic effects on midgut and imaginal disc tissues of larvae, but they do not promote genotoxicity in the wing-spot test of Drosophila. However, when both nano- and large-size forms of TiO2 were evaluated with the comet assay in Drosophila hemocytes, a significant increase in DNA damage, with a direct dose-response pattern, was observed for TiO2 NPs. The results obtained with the comet assay suggest that the primary DNA damage associated with TiO2 NPs exposure in Drosophila could be associated with specific physico-chemical properties of nano-TiO2, since no effects were observed with the bulk form. This study remarks the usefulness of using more than one genetic end-point in the evaluation of the genotoxic potential of nanomaterials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-21
JournalMutation Research - Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2015


  • DNA damage
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Nanomaterials
  • TiO 2


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