Background: In humans, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are stored primarily in adipose tissue. Their total body burden and their contribution to obesity-associated diseases remain unclear.
Objectives: We characterized POP total body burden and their redistribution in obese individuals before and after drastic weight loss and compared these values with a variety of molecular, biological, and clinical parameters.
Methods: Seventy-one obese subjects were enrolled and underwent bariatric surgery. Blood and adipose tissue samples were obtained at different times from these individuals as well as from 18 lean women.
Results: POP content (17 dioxins/furans and 18 polychlorinated biphenyl congeners) in different adipose tissue territories was similar, allowing us to assess total POP body burden from a single biopsy. Total POP body burden was 2 to 3 times higher in obese than in lean individuals. We also found increased expression of some POP target genes in obese adipose tissue. Drastic weight loss led to increased serum POPs and, within 6-12 months, to a significant 15% decrease in total polychlorinated biphenyl body burden. Importantly, serum POP levels were positively correlated with liver toxicity markers and lipid parameters, independently of age and body mass index.
Conclusions: POP content in adipose tissue and serum correlate with biological markers of obesity-related dysfunctions. Drastic weight loss leads to a redistribution of POPs and to a moderate decrease of their total body burden.