Mass Spectrometry-Based Metabolomics Reveals Occupational Exposure to Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Relates to Oxidative Stress, Fatty Acid β-Oxidation Disorder, and Kidney Injury in a Manufactory in China

By Yao Lu, Ke Gao, Xiaona Li, Zhi Tang, Li Xiang, Hongzhi Zhao, Jianjie Fu, Ling Wang, Nali Zhu, Zongwei Cai, Yong Liang, Yawei Wang, and Guibin Jiang
Environ. Sci. Technol.
June 27, 2019
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b01608

Occupational workers are usually exposed to high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), placing them under greater health risks compared to the general population. Herein, 40 occupational workers from a factory in China and 52 control subjects from the general population were involved in an investigation on the potential health concerns of occupational exposure to PFASs by mass spectrometry-based metabolomics analysis. The PFAS levels in plasma from both groups were analyzed. Six PFAS congeners (∑PFASs) were found to be the main components of the 13 detected PFASs, with a geometric mean of 1770 and 22.2 ng mL in occupational workers and the general population, respectively. Metabolic profiles of the plasma samples were acquired using liquid chromatography coupled with orbitrap high-resolution mass spectrometry and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The partial least-squares-discriminant analysis model indicated that the plasma metabolic profiles of the two groups could be clearly separated. Differential and correlation analyses were applied to discover potential biomarkers. A total of 14 potential biomarkers were identified, and they were found to be associated with oxidative stress, fatty acid β-oxidation disorder, and kidney injury. The obtained results indicated that the health effects of occupational exposure to PFASs on workers should not be ignored.

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