Assessment and Comparison of Early Developmental Toxicity of Six Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances with Human Embryonic Stem Cell Models

By Miaomiao Zhao, Nuoya Yin, Renjun Yang, Shichang Li, Shuxian Zhang, and Francesco Faiola
Environ Sci Technol
April 30, 2024
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.3c10758

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are extensively utilized in varieties of products and tend to accumulate in the human body including umbilical cord blood and embryos/fetuses. In this study, we conducted an assessment and comparison of the potential early developmental toxicity of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), undecafluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), heptafluorobutyric acid, perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), perfluorohexanesulfonate, and perfluorobutyric acid at noncytotoxic concentrations relevant to human exposure using models based on human embryonic stem cells in both three-dimensional embryoid body (EB) and monolayer differentiation configurations. All six compounds influenced the determination of cell fate by disrupting the expression of associated markers in both models and, in some instances, even led to alterations in the formation of cystic EBs. The expression of cilia-related gene was significantly inhibited. Additionally, PFOS and PFOA inhibited ciliogenesis, while PFOA specifically reduced the cilia length. Transcriptome analysis revealed that PFOS altered 1054 genes and disrupted crucial signaling pathways such as WNT and TGF-β, which play integral roles in cilia transduction and are critical for early embryonic development. These results provide precise and comprehensive insights into the potential adverse health effects of these six PFAS compounds directly concerning early human embryonic development.

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