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Thesis defense – Eloïse Colnot

17 December 2021 / 09:30

Defense in french

Venue : Centre Broca Nouvelle-Aquitaine


Effect of chronic prenatal exposure to titanium dioxide nanoparticles on the development and operation of the respiratory centers in newborn mice.


For the past two decades, nanotechnology has represented one of the greatest technological advances in many areas of human activity. The nanomaterials are used because of their remarkable physicochemical properties at the nanometric scale. In this context, titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2 NPs) are one of the nanomaterials most often found in everyday consumer products (clothes, paints, drugs, food products, cosmetics). But due to their nanometric size, TiO2 NPs can easily cross different biological barriers (such as the placental barrier and the blood-brain barrier) and can potentially be responsible for adverse health effects. Very recently, the materno-fetal transfer (or vertical transmission) of TiO2 NPs has clearly been observed in humans. My doctoral work was therefore to develop a study model making it possible to understand the neurotoxicity of these NPs in newborn animals following chronic maternal exposure during gestation. Combining in vivo (whole body plethysmography) and ex vivo approaches (extracellular and unit electrophysiological recordings on reduced central nervous system preparations) in mice, I showed during my thesis that chronic exposure to TiO2 NPs during gestation, already known to induce cognitive and behavioral deficits in the offspring, also impaired in newborns vital motor functions such as respiration (abnormally high ventilatory rate, changes in electrophysiological characteristics of neurons belonging to the respiratory centers, deficient ventilatory activity in response to environmental stimuli). All of the data presented in this manuscript falls within the framework of the potential fetotoxicity of nanoparticles and the health problems posed by these chemical risks for the unborn child.

Key words: nanoparticles, titanium dioxide, respiration, central nervous system, perinatal vulnerability, neurotoxicity


  • Mme Anne BENCSIK, Directrice de recherche, Rapporteur
  • M. Alain GARRIGOU, Professeur, Examinateur
  • M. Christian GESTREAU, Maitre de conférences, HDR ,Rapporteur
  • M. Laurent GRÉLOT, Professeur, Examinateur
  • M. Didier MORIN, Professeur ,  Directeur de thèse
  • Mme Muriel THOBY-BRISSON, Directrice de recherche, Membre invité


Thesis supervisor: Didier Morin

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17 December 2021
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