Two-generation reproduction and cross-foster studies of perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) in rats

Toxicology. 2005 Nov 5;215(1-2):126-48. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2005.07.018.


Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) is a persistent acid found widely distributed in wildlife and humans. To understand the potential reproductive and developmental effects of PFOS, a two-generation reproduction study was conducted in rats. Male and female rats were dosed via oral gavage at dose levels of 0, 0.1, 0.4, 1.6, and 3.2 mg/(kg day) for 6 weeks prior to mating, during mating, and, for females, through gestation and lactation, across two generations. Due to substantial F1 neonatal toxicity observed in the 1.6 and 3.2 mg/(kg day) groups, continuation into the second generation was limited to F1 pups from the 0, 0.1, and 0.4 mg/(kg day) groups. No adverse effects were observed in F0 females or their fetuses upon caesarean sectioning at gestation day 10. Statistically significant reductions in body-weight gain and feed consumption were observed in F0 generation males and females at dose levels of 0.4 mg/(kg day) and higher, but not in F1 adults. PFOS did not affect reproductive performance (mating, estrous cycling, and fertility); however, reproductive outcome, as demonstrated by decreased length of gestation, number of implantation sites, and increased numbers of dams with stillborn pups or with all pups dying on lactation days 1-4, was affected at 3.2 mg/(kg day) in F0 dams. These effects were not observed in F1 dams at the highest dose tested, 0.4 mg/(kg day). Neonatal toxicity in F1 pups, as demonstrated by reduced survival and body-weight gain through the end of lactation, occurred at a maternal dose of 1.6 mg/(kg day) and higher while not at dose levels of 0.1 or 0.4 mg/(kg day) or in F2 pups at the 0.1 or 0.4 mg/(kg day) dose levels tested. In addition to these adverse effects, slight yet statistically significant developmental delays occurred at 0.4 (eye opening) and 1.6 mg/(kg day) (eye opening, air righting, surface righting, and pinna unfolding) in F1 pups. Based on these data, the NOAELs were as follows: reproductive function: F0> or =3.2 and F1> or =0.4 mg/(kg day); reproductive outcome: F0=1.6 and F1> or =0.4 mg/(kg day); overall parental effects: F0=0.1 and F1> or =0.4 mg/(kg day); offspring effects: F0=0.4 and F1> or =0.4 mg/(kg day). To distinguish between maternal and pup influences contributing to the perinatal mortality observed in the two-generation study, a follow-up cross-foster study was performed. Results of this study indicated that in utero exposure to PFOS causally contributed to post-natal pup mortality, and that pre-natal and post-natal exposure to PFOS was additive with respect to the toxic effects observed in pups.

MeSH terms

  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / pharmacokinetics
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / pharmacokinetics
  • Fluorocarbons / toxicity*
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / growth & development
  • Liver / ultrastructure
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / growth & development
  • Lung / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Milk / chemistry
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Reproduction / drug effects*


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Fluorocarbons
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid