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The effect of micro-sized titanium dioxide on WM-266-4 metastatic melanoma cell line

Tanja Prunk Zdravković, Bogdan Zdravković, Mojca Lunder, Polonca Ferk


Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is widely used as an inorganic UV-filter in cosmetic products; however, it has been classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans. While numerous studies demonstrated cytotoxic and genotoxic effects of nano-sized TiO2 in different cell lines, including human skin cells, studies investigating the effects of micro-TiO2 on human keratinocytes and melanocytes, in healthy and cancer cells, are scarce. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) binding cassette subfamily B member 5 (ABCB5) is a plasma membrane protein known for its role in the tumorigenicity, progression, and recurrence of melanoma. Here, we investigated the effect of micro-TiO2 (average particle size ≤5 µm) on the metabolic activity, cytotoxicity and ABCB5 mRNA expression in metastatic melanoma cells. Metastatic melanoma cell line WM-266-4 was treated with different concentrations of micro-TiO2 for different incubation times to obtain dose- and time-dependent responses. Untreated WM-266-4 cells, cultured under the same conditions, were used as control. The cell metabolic activity was determined by MTT assay. Cytotoxicity of micro-TiO2 was analyzed by lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) cytotoxicity assay. The ABCB5 mRNA expression in melanoma cells was analyzed using quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). After 120 hours of exposure to micro-TiO2 the metabolic activity of melanoma cells decreased, especially at the two highest micro-TiO2 concentrations. Comparably, the cytotoxicity of micro-TiO2 on melanoma cells increased after 48 and 120 hours of exposure, in a time-dependent manner. The ABCB5 mRNA expression in micro-TiO2-treated melanoma cells also decreased significantly after 24 and 48 hours, in a time-dependent manner. Overall, our results suggest inhibitory effects of micro-TiO2 on the metabolic activity and ABCB5 mRNA expression in metastatic melanoma cells, indicating its potential use as an anticancer agent.


Titanium dioxide; UV filter; ABCB5 protein; melanoma

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