Front Genet. 2016 Apr 21;7:64. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2016.00064. eCollection 2016.
The preferred sampling medium for measuring human exposures of persistent organic compounds (POPs) is blood, and relevant sample types include whole blood, plasma, and dried blood spots (DBS). Because information regarding the performance and comparability of measurements across these sample types is limited, it is difficult to compare across studies. This study evaluates the performance of POP measurements in plasma, whole blood and DBS, and presents the distribution coefficients needed to convert concentrations among the three sample types. Blood samples were collected from adult volunteers, along with demographic and smoking information, and analyzed by GC/MS for organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), chlorinated hydrocarbons (CHCs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and brominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Regression models were used to evaluate the relationships between the sample types and possible effects of personal covariates. Distribution coefficients also were calculated using physically-based models. Across all compounds, concentrations in plasma were consistently the highest; concentrations in whole blood and DBS samples were comparable. Distribution coefficients for plasma to whole blood concentrations ranged from 1.74 to 2.26 for pesticides/CHCs, averaged 1.69 ± 0.06 for the PCBs, and averaged 1.65 ± 0.03 for the PBDEs. Regression models closely fit most chemicals (R (2) > 0.80), and whole blood and DBS samples generally showed very good agreement. Distribution coefficients estimated using biologically-based models were near one and did not explain the observed distribution. Among the study population, median concentrations of several pesticides/CHCs and PBDEs exceeded levels reported in the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, while levels of other OCPs and PBDEs were comparable or lower. Race and smoking status appeared to slightly affect plasma/blood concentration ratios for several POPs. The experimentally-determined distribution coefficients can be used to compare POP exposures across studies using different types of blood-based matrices.