Serum levels of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and body composition - A cross-sectional study in a middle-aged population

By P Monica Lind, Lars Lind, Samira Salihovic, Håkan Ahlström, Karl Michaelsson, Joel Kullberg, and Robin Strand
Environ Res
February 1, 2022
DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2022.112677


It has been suggested that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are endocrine disruptors with a potential to influence fat mass.


The primary hypothesis tested was that we would find positive relationships for PFAS vs measures of adiposity.


In 321 subjects all aged 50 years in the POEM study, five PFAS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA)) were measured in serum together with a Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan for determination of fat and lean mass. Whole-body magnetic resonance imaging scan was performed and the body was divided into >1 million voxels. Voxel-wise statistical analysis was carried out by a novel method denoted Imiomics.


PFOS and PFHxS, did not show any consistent associations with body composition. However, PFOA, and especially PFNA and PFDA, levels were inversely related to most traditional measures reflecting the amount of fat in women, but not in men. In the Imiomics analysis of tissue volume, PFDA and PFNA levels were inversely related to the volume of subcutaneous fat, mainly in the arm, trunk and hip regions in women, while no such clear relationship was seen in men. Also, the visceral fat content of the liver, the pericardium, and the gluteus muscle were inversely related to PFDA and PFNA in women.


Contrary to our hypothesis, some PFAS showed inverse relationships vs measurements of adiposity.


PFOS and PFHxS levels in plasma did not show any consistent associations with body composition, but PFOA, and especially PFNA and PFDA were inversely related to multiple measures reflecting the amount of fat, but in women only.

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