Early Warnings by Liver Organoids on Short- and Long-Chain PFAS Toxicity
By Stefano Palazzolo, Isabella Caligiuri, Andrea Augusto Sfriso, Matteo Mauceri, Rossella Rotondo, Davide Campagnol, Vincenzo Canzonieri, and Flavio Rizzolio
February 28, 2022
Short-chain per-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have replaced long-chains in many applications, however the toxicity and its mode of action and interactions due to the large number of these compounds and their mixtures is still poorly understood. The paper aims to compare the effects on mouse liver organoids (target organ for bioaccumulation) of two long-chain PFAS (perfluorooctane sulfonate -PFOS-, perfluorooctanoic acid -PFOA) and two short-chain PFAS commonly utilized in the industry (heptafluorobutyric acid -HFBA-, Pentafluoropropionic anhydride-PFPA) to identify the mode of action of these classes of contaminants. Cytomorphological aberrations and ALT/GDH enzyme disruption were identified but no acute toxicity endpoint neither apoptosis was detected by the two tested short-chain PFAS. After cytomorphological analysis, it is evident that short-chain PFAS affected organoid morphology inducing a reduction of cytostructural complexity and aberrant cytological features. Conversely, EC50 values of 670 ± 30 µM and 895 ± 7 µM were measured for PFOS and PFOA, respectively, together with strong ALT/GDH enzyme disruption, caspase 3 and 7 apoptosis activation and deep loss of architectural complexity of organoids in the range of 500-1000 µM. Eventually, biochemical markers and histology analysis confirmed the sensitivity of organoid tests that could be used as a fast and reproducible platform to test many PFAS and mixtures saving time and at low cost in comparison with in vivo tests. Organoids testing could be introduced as an innovative platform to assess the toxicity to fast recognize potentially dangerous pollutants.