Nanoparticles influence iron absorption in the intestine

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Nanoparticles influence iron absorption in the intestine

Many plastics today contain nanoparticles. Due to their small size, they overcome many natural barriers, such as in the human body. The scientists are arguing about their potential health effects. Now researchers from the University of Ithaca have found that nanoparticles change the iron absorption capacity in the intestine.

Nanoparticles are contained in many plastics. Today, nanoparticles are part of care products, clothing and plastics, such as in food packaging. They are up to 100 nanometers in size, i.e. up to 100 millionths of a millimeter, and can come from different materials. They are able to change the properties of a substance.

A team of scientists led by Michael L. Shuler has now discovered that nanoparticles of a certain plastic interfere with the absorption capacity of iron in the digestive system if they are taken in orally. 50 polystyrene nanoparticles were used for the investigation. The substance is said to be non-toxic to the body.

Using human intestinal cell cultures, the scientists were able to determine that a high dose of the nanoparticles leads to increased iron transport because the cell membrane was affected. In chickens, a high single dose administered directly into the small intestine resulted in less intestinal iron uptake than in chickens who received no or low dose of nanoparticles over an extended period of time. In the journal "Nature Nanotechnology", the researchers report that chickens that received polystyrene nanoparticles for a long time showed changes in the intestinal mucosa. However, they also point out that further investigations are necessary.

Health risks of nanoparticles are controversial Although nanoparticles are now used almost everywhere in industry and food processing, their possible health risks are controversial. Nanoparticles in cappuccino powder, for example, are responsible for the milk foam that is created without the need to froth milk.

In August 2009, Chinese researchers uncovered that nanoparticles in dyes can cause serious lung diseases. A Japanese study showed that nanoparticles can negatively affect fetal brain development. In addition, doctors found evidence that workers are exposed to a potential risk if they work with nano-coatings in their everyday work. Medical researcher Thomas Kraus confirmed to the news magazine "Focus" that the particles could develop an asbestos-like mode of action. However, manufacturers only have to label their products with nanoparticles from 2013 onwards. However, environmental and consumer protection groups demand immediate labeling due to the potential health hazard. (ag)

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Image: TU Braunschweig, Institute for Electrical Measurement and Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering.

Author and source information

Video: IRON- Iron proteins, functions, Sources, RDA, Absorption, transport, storage, Iron deficiency anemia


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