Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Affect Inflammation in Lung Cells and Tissues

By Julie Dragon, Michael Hoaglund, Appala Raju Badireddy, Greylin Nielsen, Jennifer Schlezinger, and Arti Shukla
Int. J. Mol. Sci.
May 10, 2023
DOI: 10.3390/ijms24108539

Adverse lung outcomes from exposure to per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are known; however, the mechanism of action is poorly understood. To explore this, human bronchial epithelial cells were grown and exposed to varied concentrations of short-chain (perfluorobutanoic acid, perflurobutane sulfonic acid and GenX) or long-chain (PFOA and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS)) PFAS, alone or in a mixture to identify cytotoxic concentrations. Non-cytotoxic concentrations of PFAS from this experiment were selected to assess NLRP3 inflammasome activation and priming. We found that PFOA and PFOS alone or in a mixture primed and activated the inflammasome compared with vehicle control. Atomic force microscopy showed that PFOA but not PFOS significantly altered the membrane properties of cells. RNA sequencing was performed on the lungs of mice that had consumed PFOA in drinking water for 14 weeks. Wild type (WT), PPARα knock-out (KO) and humanized PPARα (KI) were exposed to PFOA. We found that multiple inflammation- and immune-related genes were affected. Taken together, our study demonstrated that PFAS exposure could alter lung biology in a significant manner and may contribute to asthma/airway hyper-responsiveness.


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