Tissue bioaccumulation patterns, xenobiotic biotransformation and steroid hormone levels in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) fed a diet containing perfluoroactane sulfonic or perfluorooctane carboxylic acids

Chemosphere. 2011 May;83(8):1035-44. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2011.01.067. Epub 2011 Feb 26.


In the present study, groups of juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) were fed gelatine capsules containing fish-food spiked with PFOA or PFOS (0.2 mg kg(-1) fish) and solvent (methanol). The capsules were given at days 0, 3 and 6. Blood, liver and whole kidney samples were collected prior to exposure (no solvent control), and at days 2, 5, 8 and 14 after exposure (Note: that day 14 after exposure is equal to 7d recovery period). We report on the differences in the tissue bioaccumulation patterns of PFOS and PFOA, in addition to tissue and compound differences in modulation pattern of biotransformation enzyme genes. We observed that the level of PFOS and PFOA increased in the blood, liver and kidney during the exposure period. Different PFOS and PFOA bioaccumulation patterns were observed in the kidney and liver during exposure- and after the recovery periods. Particularly, after the recovery period, PFOA levels in the kidney and liver tissues were almost at the control level. On the contrary, PFOS maintained an increase with tissue-specific differences, showing a higher bioaccumulation potential (also in the blood), compared with PFOA. While PFOS and PFOA produced an apparent time-dependent increase in kidney CYP3A, CYP1A1 and GST expression, similar effects were only temporary in the liver, significantly increasing at sampling day 2. PFOA and PFOS exposure resulted in significant decreases in plasma estrone, testosterone and cortisol levels at sampling day 2, and their effects differed with 17α-methyltestostrerone showing significant decrease by PFOA (also for cholesterol) and increase by PFOS. PFOA significantly increased estrone and testosterone, and no effects were observed for cortisol, 17α-methyltestosterone and cholesterol at sampling day 5. Overall, the changes in plasma steroid hormone levels parallel changes in CYP3A mRNA levels. Given that there are no known studies that have demonstrated such tissue differences in bioaccumulation patterns with associated differences in toxicological responses in any fish species or lower vertebrate, the present findings provide some potential insights and basis for a better understanding of the possible mechanisms of PFCs toxicity that need to be studied in more detail.

MeSH terms

  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / blood
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / pharmacokinetics*
  • Animals
  • Biotransformation
  • Caprylates / blood
  • Caprylates / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1 / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / genetics
  • Estrone / blood*
  • Fluorocarbons / blood
  • Fluorocarbons / pharmacokinetics*
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Methyltestosterone / blood*
  • Pregnane X Receptor
  • Receptors, Steroid / genetics
  • Receptors, Steroid / metabolism
  • Salmo salar / metabolism*
  • Testosterone / blood*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Xenobiotics / blood
  • Xenobiotics / pharmacokinetics*


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Caprylates
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Pregnane X Receptor
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • Xenobiotics
  • Estrone
  • Testosterone
  • perfluorooctanoic acid
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Methyltestosterone
  • Hydrocortisone