Why is elevation of serum cholesterol associated with exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in humans? A workshop report on potential mechanisms

By Melvin E Andersen, Bruno Hagenbuch, Udayan Apte, J Christopher Corton, Tony Fletcher, Christopher Lau, William L Roth, Bart Staels, Gloria L Vega, Harvey J Clewell 3rd, Matthew P Longnecker
July 19, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.tox.2021.152845

Serum concentrations of cholesterol are positively correlated with exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in humans. The associated change in cholesterol is small across a broad range of exposure to PFOA and PFOS. Animal studies generally have not indicated a mechanism that would account for the association in humans. The extent to which the relationship is causal is an open question. Nonetheless, the association is of particular importance because increased serum cholesterol has been considered as an endpoint to derive a point of departure in at least one recent risk assessment. To gain insight into potential mechanisms for the association, both causal and non-causal, an expert workshop was held Oct 31 and Nov 1, 2019 to discuss relevant data and propose new studies. In this report, we summarize the relevant background data, the discussion among the attendees, and their recommendations for further research.


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