Differential susceptibility of rat primary neurons and neural stem cells to PFOS and PFOA toxicity

By Paula Pierozan and Oskar Karlsson
Toxicol Lett
June 16, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2021.06.004

Perfluorinated substances (PFAS) are ubiquitous and persistent contaminants. Studies have indicated that fetuses and infants can be exposed to these chemicals in utero and through breastfeeding. Despite this, limited data about their effects on brain development are available. Here, we compared the effects of PFOS and PFOA exposure in rat primary neurons and neural stem cells (NSC). Treatment with 1 to 250 µM of either of these compounds caused no effects on cell viability or proliferation in primary neurons, while PFOS exposure increased the NSC proliferation already at the lowest concentration tested (1-100 µM). Further analysis showed that both PFOS and PFOA caused morphological alterations of NSC-derived neurons. The neurons derived from NSC treated with either of the PFAS demonstrated a decrease in cell body area. Exposure to 1 and 10 µM PFOA also affected the neurite network and caused an increase in the number of processes and branches per cell. None of the PFAS caused morphological alterations in primary neurons. These data suggest that NSC, mimicking the immature brain, is clearly more susceptible to PFOS and PFOA exposure than the primary neurons. The PFAS-induced alterations in NSC may be related to neurobehavioral alterations observed in rodents developmentally exposed to these compounds, and show the importance to consider the effects of these compounds on human brain development and disease.

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