Cell Biology and Toxicology

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 89–100 | Cite as

Presence of nanosilica (E551) in commercial food products: TNF-mediated oxidative stress and altered cell cycle progression in human lung fibroblast cells

  • Jegan Athinarayanan
  • Vaiyapuri Subbarayan Periasamy
  • Mohammed A. Alsaif
  • Abdulrahman A. Al-Warthan
  • Ali A. Alshatwi
Original Research


Silica (E551) is commonly used as an anti-caking agent in food products. The morphology and the dimension of the added silica particles are not, however, usually stated on the food product label. The food industry has adapted nanotechnology using engineered nanoparticles to improve the quality of their products. However, there has been increased debate regarding the health and safety concerns related to the use of engineered nanoparticles in consumer products. In this study, we investigated the morphology and dimensions of silica (E551) particles in food. The silica content of commercial food products was determined using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry. The result indicates that 2.74–14. 45 μg/g silica was found in commercial food products; however, the daily dietary intake in increase causes adverse effects on human health. E551 was isolated from food products and the morphology, particle size, crystalline nature, and purity of the silica particles were analyzed using XRD, FTIR, TEM, EDX and DLS. The results of these analyses confirmed the presence of spherical silica nanoparticles (of amorphous nature) in food, approximately 10–50 nm in size. The effects of E551 on human lung fibroblast cell viability, intracellular ROS levels, cell cycle phase, and the expression levels of metabolic stress-responsive genes (CAT, GSTA4, TNF, CYP1A, POR, SOD1, GSTM3, GPX1, and GSR1) were studied. The results suggest that E551 induces a dose-dependent cytotoxicity and changes in ROS levels and alters the gene expression and cell cycle. Treatment with a high concentration of E551 caused significant cytotoxic effects on WI-38 cells. These findings have implications for the use of these nanoparticles in the food industry.


E551 Food additives Anti-caking agent Cytotoxicity Gene expression 



We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the National Program for Science and Technology, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia (project code BIO-981-10).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jegan Athinarayanan
    • 1
  • Vaiyapuri Subbarayan Periasamy
    • 1
  • Mohammed A. Alsaif
    • 1
  • Abdulrahman A. Al-Warthan
    • 2
  • Ali A. Alshatwi
    • 1
  1. 1.Nanobiotechnology and Molecular Biology Research Lab, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, College of Food Science and AgricultureKing Saud UniversityRiyadhKingdom of Saudi Arabia
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry, College of ScienceKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia

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