Gestational exposure to perfluorooctane sulfonate suppresses immune function in B6C3F1 mice

Toxicol Sci. 2008 May;103(1):77-85. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfn015. Epub 2008 Feb 5.


Perfluorinated alkyl acids (PFAAs) are used in a multitude of applications and are categorized as high-production volume chemicals produced in quantities exceeding 10,000 lbs/year. As a result, widespread exposure has been documented in adults, children, and infants. It is generally accepted that children are more sensitive to the effects of xenobiotic exposures during fetal and postnatal periods of development; therefore, considerable efforts are required to investigate the potential impact of a model PFAA, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) on children's immunological health. Using the pairing of female C57BL/6N mice with male C3H/HeJ, developmental immunotoxicity was evaluated in B6C3F1 pups following oral maternal exposure to PFOS on gestations days 1-17. Exposure levels included 0.1, 1, and 5 mg/kg/day PFOS. Natural killer (NK) cell activity, SRBC IgM plaque assay, CD4/8 lymphocytic subpopulations, nitrite production in peritoneal macrophages, and body/organ weights were evaluated at 4 and 8 weeks of age in F1 pups. No significant dose-responsive changes in maternal or pup body weights, flow cytometry, or macrophage function were observed, yet hepatomegaly was indicated in F1 male pups at 4 weeks of age. Functional deficits were not evident until 8 weeks of age when NK cell function and IgM production were significantly decreased. When compared with females, male pups were more sensitive to the effects of PFOS thereby establishing a no observed adverse effect level and low observed adverse effect level of 0.1 and 1.0 mg/kg/day (males only) following maternal PFOS exposure level, respectively. This study establishes that the developing immune system is sensitive to the effects of PFOS and results in functional deficits in innate and humoral immunity detectable at adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation / drug effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorocarbons / toxicity*
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Pregnancy


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Fluorocarbons
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid