The occurrence of PFAS in human placenta and their binding abilities to human serum albumin and organic anion transporter 4

By Lu, Yao, Lingyi Meng, Donghui Ma, Huiming Cao, Yong Liang, Hongwei Liu, Yawei Wang, and Guibin Jiang
Environ Pollut
February 2, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2021.116460

Both legacy and emerging per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been found to be threats to human health. In particular, fetuses are sensitive to xenobiotics and the placenta functions as a significant barrier for environmental pollutants. The placental transfer of PFAS is closely related to their interactions with proteins. In this study, 54 human placental samples were collected to investigate the occurrence of legacy and emerging PFAS in human placenta, including perfluorinated carboxylates (PFCAs), perfluorinated sulfonates (PFSAs), chlorinated polyfluoroalkyl ether sulfonic acids (Cl-PFESAs), and fluorotelomer sulfonates (FTSAs). Among the legacy PFAS, perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) were detected in all samples, with PFOS and PFOA being the two predominant (mean: 0.457 and 0.242 ng/g wet weight, respectively). Among the emerging PFAS, 6:2 Cl-PFESA was detected in all samples with the mean value of 0.104 ng/g wet weight, while the detect frequency (DF) of 8:2 Cl-PFESAs was only 24%. The concentration and DF of the four FTSA congeners were low in the placentas. Molecular docking calculation results showed that the binding affinities of PFAS to the human serum albumin (HSA) were increased with chain length in each category except for the PFCAs, of which the perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnDA) was the turning point of binding affinity to HSA. For PFSAs, their binding affinities to organic anion transporter 4 (OAT4) were increased with the chain length except for the sodium perfluoro-1-heptanesulfonate (PFHpS) and sodium perfluoro-1-nonanesulfonate (PFNS). The calculation results demonstrated that the placental transfer of PFAS is closely related to chain length. The findings in the study can help better understand the occurrence of the PFAS in the human placenta and the placental transfer mechanisms of PFAS in human beings.


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