Endocrine disruption of vitamin D activity by perfluoro-octanoic acid (PFOA)

By Andrea Di Nisio, Maria Santa Rocca, Luca De Toni, Iva Sabovic, Diego Guidolin, Stefano Dall'Acqua, Laura Acquasaliente, Vincenzo De Filippis, Mario Plebani, and Carlo Foresta
Sci Rep
October 14, 2020
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-74026-8

Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of compounds used in industry and consumer products. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is the predominant form in human samples and has been shown to induce severe health consequences, such as neonatal mortality, neurotoxicity, and immunotoxicity. Toxicological studies indicate that PFAS accumulate in bone tissues and cause altered bone development. Epidemiological studies have reported an inverse relationship between PFAS and bone health, however the associated mechanisms are still unexplored. Here, we present computational, in silico and in vitro evidence supporting the interference of PFOA on vitamin D (VD). First, PFOA competes with calcitriol on the same binding site of the VD receptor, leading to an alteration of the structural flexibility and a 10% reduction by surface plasmon resonance analysis. Second, this interference leads to an altered response of VD-responsive genes in two cellular targets of this hormone, osteoblasts and epithelial cells of the colorectal tract. Third, mineralization in human osteoblasts is reduced upon coincubation of PFOA with VD. Finally, in a small cohort of young healthy men, PTH levels were higher in the exposed group, but VD levels were comparable. Altogether these results provide the first evidence of endocrine disruption by PFOA on VD pathway by competition on its receptor and subsequent inhibition of VD-responsive genes in target cells.

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