Plasma cholecystokinin and hepatic enzymes, cholesterol and lipoproteins in ammonium perfluorooctanoate production workers

Drug Chem Toxicol. 2000 Nov;23(4):603-20. doi: 10.1081/dct-100101973.


Ammonium perfluorooctanoate is a potent synthetic surfactant used in industrial applications. It rapidly dissociates in biologic media to perfluorooctanoate [CF3(CF2)6CO2-], which is the anion of perfluorooctanoic acid [PFOA, CF3(CF2)6COOH]. PFOA is a peroxisome proliferator known to increase the incidence of hepatic, pancreas and Leydig cell adenomas in rats. The pancreas acinar cell adenomas may be the consequence of a mild but sustained increase of cholecystokinin as a result of hepatic cholestasis. Although no significant clinical hepatic toxicity was observed, PFOA was reported to have modulated hepatic responses to obesity and alcohol consumption among production workers. To further assess these hypotheses, we examined medical surveillance data of male workers involved in ammonium perfluorooctanoate production in 1993 (n=111), 1995 (n=80) and 1997 (n=74). Serum PFOA was measured by high-performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry methods. Plasma cholecystokinin was measured (only in 1997) by the use of direct radioimmunoassay. Serum biochemical tests included hepatic enzymes, cholesterol and lipoproteins. Serum PFOA levels, by year, were: 1993 (mean 5.0 ppm, SD 12.2, median 1.1 ppm, range 0.0-80.0 ppm); 1995 (mean 6.8 ppm, SD 16.0, median 1.2 ppm, range 0.0-114.1 ppm); and 1997 (mean 6.4 ppm, SD 14.3, median 1.3 ppm, range 0.1-81.3 ppm). Cholecystokinin values (mean 28.5 pg/ml, SD 17.1, median 22.7 pg/ml, range 8.8-86.7 pg/ml) approximated the assay's reference range (up to 80 pg/ml) for a 12 hour fast and were negatively, not positively, associated with employees' serum PFOA levels. Our findings continue to suggest there is no significant clinical hepatic toxicity associated with PFOA levels as measured in this workforce. Unlike a previously reported observation, PFOA did not appear to modulate hepatic responses to either obesity or alcohol consumption. Limitations of these findings include: 1) the cross-sectional design as only 17 subjects were common for the three surveillance years; 2) the voluntary participation that ranged between 50 and 70 percent; and 3) the few subjects with serum levels > or = 10 ppm.

MeSH terms

  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Mass Index
  • Caprylates / adverse effects*
  • Caprylates / blood*
  • Cholecystokinin / blood*
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Fluorocarbons / adverse effects*
  • Fluorocarbons / blood*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins / blood*
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Peroxisome Proliferators / adverse effects*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Regression Analysis


  • Caprylates
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Lipoproteins
  • Peroxisome Proliferators
  • Cholecystokinin
  • perfluorooctanoic acid
  • Cholesterol
  • Alanine Transaminase