Sci Total Environ. 2020 Dec 20;749:141581. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141581. Epub 2020 Aug 11.


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are byproducts of incomplete combustion reactions and are ubiquitous in the environment, leading to widespread human exposure via inhalation and ingestion pathways. PAHs have been implicated as endocrine disrupting compounds in previous animal and in vitro studies, but human studies are currently lacking. Pregnant women and their developing fetuses are particularly susceptible populations to environmental contaminants, in part because alterations in hormone physiology during gestation can have adverse consequences on the health of the pregnancy. We utilized data on 659 pregnant women from the PROTECT longitudinal birth cohort in Puerto Rico to assess associations between repeated measures of 8 urinary hydroxylated PAH (OH-PAH) metabolites and 9 serum hormones during gestation. Urine samples were collected at 3 study visits (median gestational ages of 18, 22, and 26 weeks at each visit, respectively) and serum samples were collected at the first and third study visits. Linear mixed effects models were used to ascertain longitudinal associations between OH-PAHs and hormones, and sensitivity analyses were employed to assess potential nonlinearity and differences in associations on the basis of fetal sex and timing of biomarker measurement. Among the multiple positive associations we observed between OH-PAHs and CRH, estriol, progesterone, T3, and the ratio of T3 to T4, and inverse associations with testosterone, the most notable are a 24.3% increase (95% CI: 13.0, 36.7) in CRH with an interquartile range (IQR) increase in 1-hydroxyphenanthrene and a 17.2% decrease (95% CI: 8.13, 25.4) in testosterone with an IQR increase in 1-hydroxynapthalene. Many associations observed were dependent on fetal sex, and some relationships showed evidence of nonlinearity. These findings demonstrate the importance of studying PAH exposures during pregnancy and highlight the potential complexity of their impacts on the physiology of human pregnancy.

PMID:32829279 | PMC:PMC7755823 | DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141581