Serum vaccine antibody concentrations in adults exposed to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances: A birth cohort in the Faroe Islands

By Yu-Hsuan Shih, Annelise J Blomberg, Marie-Abèle Bind, Dorte Holm, Flemming Nielsen, Carsten Heilmann, Pál Weihe, and Philippe Grandjean
J Immunotoxicol
June 23, 2021
DOI: 10.1080/1547691X.2021.1922957

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are highly persistent in the environment and may cause depressed immune function. Previous studies have linked PFAS exposure to lower vaccine responses in children, but research in adults is limited. Therefore, the present study evaluated the associations between exposure to PFASs and serum antibody concentrations in adults vaccinated at age 28 years in the Faroe Islands. PFAS concentrations were determined from cord-blood collected at birth and serum samples collected at ages 7, 14, 22, and 28 years. Serum antibody concentrations against hepatitis type A and B, diphtheria, and tetanus were analyzed from blood samples collected about 6 mo after the first vaccine inoculation at age 28 years. Linear regression models were used to estimate changes in antibody concentration for each doubling of PFAS concentration. Potential effect modification by sex was assessed by including an interaction term between PFAS and sex. Although the 95% confidence intervals contain the null value, inverse trends were observed between serum perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) at ages 14 and 28 years and hepatitis type A antibody (anti-HAV) concentrations, as revealed by an estimated decrease of 0.71 (95% CI: -1.52, 0.09) and 0.24 (95% CI: -0.59, 0.10) signal-to-cutoff ratio for each doubling of exposure, respectively. Inverse trends were also observed between serum PFOA at ages 22 and 28 years and hepatitis type B antibody (anti-HBs) concentration, with an estimated decrease of 21% (95% CI: -42.20%, 7.34%) and of 17% (95% CI: -35.47%, 7.35%) in anti-HBs for each doubling of exposure, respectively. Sex-specific associations with anti-HAV were observed for cord-blood PFASs and serum PFAS concentrations at ages 7 and 14 years. No inverse associations of PFAS exposure were found with diphtheria and tetanus antibody concentrations. Future studies are needed to confirm these findings and further investigate the effects of PFASs on adult immune function.

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