Metabolic Perturbations Associated with both PFAS Exposure and Perinatal/Antenatal Depression in Pregnant Individuals: A Meet-in-the-Middle Scoping Review

By Himal Suthar, Roselyn B Tanghal, Lida Chatzi, Jesse A Goodrich, Rachel Morello-Frosch, and Max Aung
Curr Environ Health Rep
June 19, 2024
DOI: 10.1007/s40572-024-00451-w

Purpose Of Review

Depression during the perinatal or antenatal period affects at least 1 in 10 women worldwide, with long term health implications for the mother and child. Concurrently, there is increasing evidence associating maternal exposure to per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to adverse pregnancy outcomes. We reviewed the body of evidence examining both the associations between PFAS exposure and perturbations in the maternal metabolome, and the associations between the maternal metabolome and perinatal/antenatal depression. Through this, we sought to explore existing evidence of the perinatal metabolome as a potential mediation pathway linking PFAS exposure and perinatal/antenatal depression.

Recent Findings

There are few studies examining the metabolomics of PFAS exposure-specifically in pregnant women-and the metabolomics of perinatal/antenatal depression, let alone studies examining both simultaneously. Of the studies reviewed (N = 11), the majority were cross sectional, based outside of the US, and conducted on largely homogenous populations. Our review identified 23 metabolic pathways in the perinatal metabolome common to both PFAS exposure and perinatal/antenatal depression. Future studies may consider findings from our review to conduct literature-derived hypothesis testing focusing on fatty acid metabolism, alanine metabolism, glutamate metabolism, and tyrosine metabolism when exploring the biochemical mechanisms conferring the risk of perinatal/antenatal depression due to PFAS exposure. We recommend that researchers also utilize heterogenous populations, longitudinal study designs, and mediation approaches to elucidate key pathways linking PFAS exposures to perinatal/antenatal depression.

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