Safety of nanomaterials

Wild roundworms which are exposed to nanoparticles suffer from malnutrition. The impact on human nutrition needs to be investigated.

10/29/2019 · Lebenswissenschaften · Leibniz-Institut für umweltmedizinische Forschung an der Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf gGmbH · News · Forschungsergebnis

Researchers from the IUF – Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Düsseldorf showed that particular nanoparticles affect nutrient uptake in the roundworm. The study was published in “Nanotoxicology”.

Düsseldorf, 25.10.2019. Nanoparticles from silicon dioxide (silica; SiO2) are added to food products for example as anticaking agent. Recent research results from the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans show that within the intestinal cells of the roundworm nano silica disturb the uptake and use of digested proteins. The building blocks of proteins are deposited in storage vesicles within the intestinal cells and are not available for subsequent metabolism. Thereby the worms remain small, have less offsprings and show premature aging. This is a disadvantage for wild roundworms which are exposed to nanoparticles in the environment. If those nano scaled food additives also have a negative impact on human nutrition needs to be investigated.

The corresponding study was conducted by Professor Anna von Mikecz, group leader at IUF – Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Düsseldorf, and her coworkers and published in “Nanotoxicology”. “Silica nanoparticles act as nutrition trap in the intestine of the roundworm and thereby lead to malnutrition, reduced fitness and premature aging”, explains Prof. Anna von Mikecz. “In the next step we will investigate if and how the changes in the intestine also affect the nervous system in our model system.”

The safety of nanomaterials is one of the research focuses at the IUF und accordingly the IUF is member of the Leibniz Research Alliance Nanosafety.

Original publication

Piechulek A, Berwanger LC, von Mikecz A: Silica nanoparticles disrupt OPT-2/PEP-2-dependent trafficking of nutrient peptides in the intestinal epithelium. Nanotoxicol 13(8): 1133-1148, 2019. doi: 10.1080/17435390.2019.1643048

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