Must Read! Gut Microbiota: University of Massachusetts Study Finds That Common Food Additive E171 Causes Adverse Health Effects
: According to research led by a University of Massachusetts Amherst food scientist, a common food additive called E171 which recently banned in France but allowed in the U.S. and many other countries, was found to significantly alter gut microbiota in mice, causing inflammation in the colon and changes in protein expression in the liver.
The study findings were published in the journal: Nano-Micro, a weekly, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal that covers nanotechnology.
Lead author Dr Hang Xiao, Professor and Clydesdale Scholar of Food Science told Thailand Medical News, “I think our results have a lot of implications in the food industry and on human health and nutrition. The study confirmed a strong linkage between foodborne titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2 NPs) and adverse health effects.”
The Gut microbiota, which refers to the diverse and complex community of microorganisms in the gut, plays a vital role in human health. An imbalance of gut microbiota has been associated with a range of health issues, including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Typical human exposure to foodborne TiO2 NPs comes primarily from a food additive known as E171, which is made up of different-size particles of TiO2, including one-third or more that are nanoscale. E171, which makes products look whiter and more opaque, is found in such food as desserts, candy, beverages and gum. E171 exposure is two to four times higher in U.S. children than in adults, one study has found.
Though smaller than 100 nanometers, foodborne nanoscale particles can have unique physiological properties that cause concern.
Dr Xiao added, “The bigger particles won’t be absorbed easily, but the smaller ones could get into the tissues and accumulate somewhere.”
In the research, Dr Xiao and his team fed either E171 or TiO2 NPs to two populations of mice as part of their daily diet. One population was fed a high-fat diet similar to that of many Americans, two-thirds of whom are obese or overweight; the other group of mice was fed a low-fat diet. The mice fed a high-fat diet eventually became obese, while the mice on the low-fat diet did not.
Dr Xiao further added, “In both the non-obese mice and obese mice, the gut microbiota was disturbed by both E171 and TiO2 NPs. The nanosized particles caused more negative changes in both groups of mice. Moreover, the obese mice were more susceptible to the adverse effects of TiO2 NPs, causing more damage in obese mice than in non-obese ones.”
The study team found TiO2 NPs decreased cecal levels of short-chain fatty acids, which are essential for colon health, and increased pro-inflammatory immune cells and cytokines in the colon, indicating an inflammatory state.
In order to evaluate the direct health impact of gut microbiota disrupted by TiO2 NP, Xiao and colleagues conducted a fecal transplant study. They gave mice antibiotics to clear out their original gut microbiota and then transplanted fecal bacteria from the TiO2 NP-treated mice to the antibiotic-treated mice.
Dr Xiao says, “The results support our hypothesis that including TiO2 NPs in the diet disrupts the homeostasis of the gut microbiota which in turn leads to colonic inflammation in the mice.”
The research also measured levels of TiO2 in human stool samples, finding a wide range. Xiao says further research is needed to determine the health effects of long-term such as life-long and multigenerational exposure to TiO2 NPs.
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