Systemic toxicity induced by topical application of heptafluorobutyric acid (PFBA) in a murine model

By Lisa M Weatherly, Hillary L Shane, Ewa Lukomska, Rachel Baur, and Stacey E Anderson
Food Chem Toxicol
September 8, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.fct.2021.112528

Heptafluorobutyric acid (PFBA) is a synthetic chemical belonging to the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) group that includes over 5000 chemicals incorporated into numerous products. PFBA is a short-chain PFAS (C4) labeled as a safer alternative to legacy PFAS which have been linked to numerous health effects. Despite the high potential for dermal exposure, occupationally and environmentally, dermal exposure studies are lacking. Using a murine model, this study analyzed serum chemistries, histology, immune phenotyping, and gene expression to evaluate the systemic toxicity of sub-chronic dermal PFBA 15-day (15% v/v or 375 mg/kg/dose) or 28-day (3.75-7.5% v/v or 93.8-187.5 mg/kg/dose) exposures. PFBA exposure produced significant increases in liver and kidney weights and altered serum chemistries (all exposure levels). Immune-cell phenotyping identified significant increases in draining lymph node B-cells (15%) and CD11b + cells (3.75-15%) and skin T-cells (3.75-15%) and neutrophils (7.5-15%). Histopathological and gene expression changes were observed in both the liver and skin after dermal PFBA exposure. The findings indicate PFBA induces liver toxicity and alterations of PPAR target genes, suggesting a role of a PPAR pathway. These results demonstrate that sustained dermal exposure to PFBA induces systemic effects and raise concerns of short-chain PFAS being promoted as safer alternatives.

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