Prenatal exposure to poly-/per-fluoroalkyl substances is associated with alteration of lipid profiles in cord-blood

By Lisanna Sinisalu, Leo W Y Yeung, Jinghua Wang, Yitao Pan, Jiayin Dai, and Tuulia Hyötyläinen
November 30, 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s11306-021-01853-9


Poly-/per-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are widespread environmental pollutants that may induce metabolic perturbations in humans, including particularly alterations in lipid profiles. Prenatal exposure to PFAS can cause lasting effects on offspring metabolic health, however, the underlying mechanisms are still unknown.


The goal of the study was to investigate the impact of prenatal PFAS exposure on the lipid profiles in cord blood.


Herein, we combined determination of bile acids (BAs) and molecular lipids by liquid chromatography with ultra-high-resolution mass spectrometry, and separately quantified cord blood concentrations of sixteen PFAS in a cohort of Chinese infants (104 subjects) in a cross-sectional study. We then evaluated associations between PFAS concentration and lipidome using partial correlation network analysis, debiased sparse partial correlation, linear regression analysis and correlation analysis.


PFAS levels showed significant associations with the lipid profiles; specifically, PFAS exposure was positively correlated with triacylgycerols (TG) and several bile acids. Importantly, exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) were associated with increased levels of TGs with saturated fatty acids while multiple classes of phospholipids were decreased. In addition, several free fatty acids showed significant positive correlations with PFOS.


Our results indicated that prenatal exposure to PFAS mediated metabolic changes, which may explain the associations reported between PFAS exposure and metabolic health later in life.

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