medRxiv. 2023 Nov 7:2023.11.03.23297930. doi: 10.1101/2023.11.03.23297930. Preprint.
BACKGROUND: Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) exposure can occur through ingestion of contaminated food and water, and inhalation of indoor air contaminated with these chemicals from consumer and industrial products. Prenatal PFAS exposures may confer risk for pregnancy-related outcomes such as hypertensive and metabolic disorders, preterm birth, and impaired fetal development through intermediate metabolic and inflammation pathways.
OBJECTIVE: Estimate associations between maternal pregnancy PFAS exposure (individually and as a mixture) and bioactive lipids.
METHODS: Our study included pregnant women in the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes Program: Chemicals in our Bodies cohort (CiOB, n=73), Illinois Kids Developmental Study (IKIDS, n=287), and the ECHO-PROTECT cohort (n=54). We measured twelve PFAS in serum and 50 plasma bioactive lipids (parent fatty acids and eicosanoids derived from cytochrome p450, lipoxygenase, and cyclooxygenase) during pregnancy (median 17 gestational weeks). Pairwise associations across cohorts were estimated using linear mixed models and meta-analysis. Associations between the PFAS mixture and individual bioactive lipids were estimated using quantile g-computation.
RESULTS: PFDeA, PFOA, and PFUdA were associated (p<0.05) with changes in bioactive lipid levels in all three enzymatic pathways (cyclooxygenase [n=6 signatures]; cytochrome p450 [n=5 signatures]; lipoxygenase [n=7 signatures]) in at least one combined cohort analysis. The strongest signature indicated that a doubling in PFOA corresponded with a 24.3% increase (95% CI [7.3%, 43.9%]) in PGD2 (cyclooxygenase pathway) in the combined cohort. In the mixtures analysis, we observed nine positive signals across all pathways associated with the PFAS mixture. The strongest signature indicated that a quartile increase in the PFAS mixture was associated with a 34% increase in PGD2 (95% CI [8%, 66%]), with PFOS contributing most to the increase.
CONCLUSIONS: Bioactive lipids were revealed as biomarkers of PFAS exposure and could provide mechanistic insights into PFAS’ influence on pregnancy outcomes, informing more precise risk estimation and prevention strategies.