Shape matters: TiO2 in sunscreens

Women with yellow sun glasses in front of a pink background
Women with yellow sun glasses in front of a pink background


Skin protection against ultraviolet (UV) radiation is necessary to reduce sunburn damage (erythema) and has been recognized as an important preventive measure against the development of cancer. Many sun-blocking pharmaceutical products are based on titanium dioxide nanomaterials (TiO2 NMs) due to their UV barrier properties.

A recently published study aimed to assess if the UV protective efficiency of TiO2 NMs depends on their shape. The researchers prepared TiO2 nanowires (TNW), TiO2 nanotubes (TNT), and TiO2 nanoplates (TNP) and tested their effects on human keratinocytes before and after UVB irradiation under in vitro exposure settings. The UVB radiation was applied at the dose equivalent to the UV component observed in one medial erythemal dose. The biological effects of TiO2 NMs on nonirradiated and UVB-irradiated keratinocytes were observed by means of cell viability, genotoxicity, and inflammatory response.

Safe-by-design is crucial

The obtained results clearly showed that the effects of TiO2 NMs in vitro, either cytotoxic or protective, depend on their shape. These observations highlight the beneficial properties of nanomaterials that can improve the quality and efficacy of nano-enabled products only if the safe-by-design concept has been implemented during the innovation process.

The study has been published in Journal of Nanoparticle Research.

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