Airway exposure to TiO2 nanoparticles and quartz and effects on sperm counts and testosterone levels in male mice
Several types of engineered nanoparticles (ENP) have been shown to adversely affect male reproduction in rodent studies, but the airway route of exposure has been little investigated. This precludes adequate risk assessment of ENP exposure in occupational settings. Titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2 NP) have been shown to affect total sperm count in adult male mice after intravenous and oral administration. This study aimed to investigate whether also airway exposure would affect sperm counts in male mice. Mature C57BL/6J mice were intratracheally instilled with 63 μg of rutile nanosized TiO2, once weekly for seven weeks. Respirable α-quartz (SRM1878a) was included at a similar dose level as a positive control for pulmonary inflammation. BALF cell composition showed neutrophil granulocyte influx as indication of pulmonary inflammation in animals exposed to TiO2 NP and α-quartz, but none of the particle exposures affected weight of testes or the epididymis, sperm counts or plasma testosterone when assessed at termination of the study.