Association between a Mixture of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and Inflammatory Biomarkers in the Atlanta African American Maternal-Child Cohort

By Youran Tan, Kaitlin R Taibl, Anne L Dunlop, Dana Boyd Barr, Parinya Panuwet, Volha Yakimavets, Kurunthachalam Kannan, Elizabeth J Corwin, P Barry Ryan, Jasmin A Eatman, Donghai Liang, and Stephanie M Eick
Environ Sci Technol
August 30, 2023
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.3c04688

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been identified as environmental contributors to adverse birth outcomes. One potential mechanistic pathway could be through PFAS-related inflammation and cytokine production. Here, we examined associations between a PFAS mixture and inflammatory biomarkers during early and late pregnancy from participants enrolled in the Atlanta African American Maternal-Child Cohort ( = 425). Serum concentrations of multiple PFAS were detected in >90% samples at 8-14 weeks gestation. Serum concentrations of interferon-γ (IFN-γ), interleukin 6 (IL-6), interleukin 10 (IL-10), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured at up to two time points (8-14 weeks and 24-30 weeks gestation). The effect of the PFAS mixture on each inflammatory biomarker was examined using quantile g-computation, Bayesian kernel machine regression (BKMR), Bayesian Weighted Sums (BWS), and weighted quantile sum (WQS) regression. Across all models, the PFAS mixture was associated with increased IFN-γ, IL-10, and TNF-α at both time points, with the strongest effects being observed at 24-30 weeks. Using quantile g-computation, increasing concentrations of a PFAS mixture were associated with a 29% (95% confidence interval = 18.0%, 40.7%) increase in TNF-α at 24-30 weeks. Similarly, using BWS, the PFAS mixture was associated with increased TNF-α at 24-30 weeks (summed effect = 0.29, 95% highest posterior density = 0.17, 0.41). The PFAS mixture was also positively associated with TNF-α at 24-30 weeks using BKMR [75th vs 50th percentile: 17.1% (95% credible interval = 7.7%, 27.4%)]. Meanwhile, PFOS was consistently the main drivers of overall mixture effect across four methods. Our findings indicated an increase in prenatal PFAS exposure is associated with an increase in multiple pro-inflammatory cytokines, potentially contributing to adverse pregnancy outcomes.

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