Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) have attracted attention in recent years for their environmental ubiquity, as well as their toxicity. Several PFAAs are found in human tissues globally, as humans are exposed on a daily basis through intake of contaminated food, water, and air, irrespective of proximity to industry. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a PFAA shown to be developmentally toxic in mice, with broad and varied health consequences that may include long-lasting effects in reproductive tissues and metabolic reprogramming. To date, the only demonstrated mode of action by which the health effects of PFOA are mediated is via the activation of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα). The endogenous roles for this receptor, as well as the adverse outcomes of activation by exogenous agents during development, are currently under investigation. Recent studies suggest that PFOA may alter steroid hormone production or act indirectly, via ovarian effects, as a novel means of endocrine disruption. Here we review the existing literature on the known health effects of PFOA in animal models, focusing on sensitive developmental periods. To complement this, we also present epidemiologic health data, with the caveat that these studies largely address only associations between adult exposures and outcomes, rarely focusing on endocrine-specific endpoints, susceptible subpopulations, or windows of sensitivity. Further research in these areas is needed.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.