Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) thwarts the beneficial effects of calorie restriction and Metformin

By Deanna M Salter, Wei Wei, Pragati P Nahar, Emily Marques, and Angela L Slitt
Toxicol Sci
April 20, 2021
DOI: 10.1093/toxsci/kfab043

Calorie restriction (CR), dietary modification, and exercise is the recommended therapy to reverse obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. In the liver, calorie restriction shifts hepatic metabolism from lipid storage to lipid utilization pathways, such as AMP-activated kinase (AMPK). Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), a fluorosurfactant previously used in stain repellents and anti-stick materials, can increase hepatic lipids in mice following relatively low dose exposures. To test the hypothesis that PFOS administration interferes with CR adult male C57BL/6N mice were fed ad libitum or a 25% reduced calorie diet concomitant with either vehicle (water) or 100 μg PFOS/kg/day via oral gavage for 6 weeks. CR alone improved hepatic lipids and glucose tolerance. PFOS did not significantly alter CR-induced weight loss, white adipose tissue mass, or liver weight over 6 weeks. However, PFOS increased hepatic triglyceride accumulation, in both mice fed ad libitum and subjected to CR. This was associated with decreased phosphorylated AMPK expression in liver. Glucagon (100 nM) treatment induced glucose production in hepatocytes, which was further upregulated with PFOS (2.5 μM) co-treatment. Next, to explore whether the observed changes were related to AMPK signaling, HepG2 cells were treated with metformin or AICAR alone or in combination with PFOS (25 μM). PFOS interfered with glucose lowering effects of Metformin, and AICAR treatment partially impaired PFOS-induced increase in glucose production. In 3T3-L1 adipocytes, metformin was less effective with PFOS co-treatment. Overall, PFOS administration disrupted hepatic lipid and glucose homeostasis and interfered with beneficial glucose lowering effects of calorie restriction and Metformin.

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