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Food allergies: the impact of E171 (titanium dioxide)

​​Researchers at the LIAA (SPI/DMTS) have shown that pre- and perinatal exposure of mice to titanium dioxide increases the risk of developing a food allergy, particularly in males.

Published on 28 February 2024

Food allergies are on the increase, affecting an estimated 10% of the population in Western countries, and particularly affecting children.

In a recent study, the results of which were published in the journal Allergy, the food immuno-allergy laboratory (LIAA, SPI, DMTS, CEA / Inrae) assessed the effect of the food additive E171 (titanium dioxide, TiO2), which is partly in nanoparticulate form, on the onset of food allergies in male and female mice.

In Europe and France, titanium dioxide can no longer be used as a food additive because of probable genotoxicity, but other health risks are possible.

We also know that TiO2 passes the placental barrier in humans and is excreted in milk, at least in mice.

In their article, the researchers show that dietary exposure to titanium dioxide from preconception, at doses that are realistic compared with human dietary exposure, increases the intensity of the allergic reaction induced by cow's milk, and reduces the ability to induce oral food tolerance to this same food, but only in the male offspring.

Multi-omics analyses carried out by the LIMS (SPI/DMTS) upstream of allergy induction show that this effect could be the result of an alteration in the establishment of intestinal homeostasis, an alteration that is also more marked in males: increased permeability of the epithelial barrier, dysbiosis, altered immunity and metabolism.

​​Contact Frédéric-Joliot Institute for Life sciences:​

Karine Ade​l-Patient (

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