Development of PBPK models for PFOA and PFOS for human pregnancy and lactation life stages

J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2013;76(1):25-57. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2012.722523.


Perfluoroalkyl acid carboxylates and sulfonates (PFAA) have many consumer and industrial applications. Developmental toxicity studies in animals have raised concern about potential reproductive/developmental effects of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS); however, in humans conflicting results have been reported for associations between maternal PFAA levels and these outcomes. Risk assessments and interpretation of available human data during gestation and lactation are hindered due to lack of a framework for understanding and estimating maternal, fetal, and neonatal pharmacokinetics (PK). Physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models were developed for PFOA and PFOS for the gestation and lactation life stages in humans to understand how the physiological changes associated with development affect pharmacokinetics of these compounds in the mother, fetus, and infant. These models were derived from PBPK models for PFOA/PFOS that were previously developed for adult humans and rats during gestation and lactation and from existing human pregnancy and lactation models developed for other chemicals. The models simulated PFOA and PFOS concentrations in fetal, infant, and maternal plasma and milk, were compared to available data in humans, and also were used to estimate maternal exposure. The models reported here identified several research needs, which include (1) the identification of transporters involved in renal resorption to explain the multiyear half-lives of these compounds in humans, (2) factors affecting clearance of PFOA/PFOS during gestation and lactation, and (3) data to estimate clearance of PFOA/PFOS in infants. These models may help address concerns regarding possible adverse health effects due to PFOA/PFOS exposure in the fetus and infant and may be useful in comparing pharmacokinetics across life stages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / pharmacokinetics*
  • Animals
  • Caprylates / pharmacokinetics*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / pharmacokinetics*
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Lactation / metabolism*
  • Maternal Exposure
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Models, Biological*
  • Pregnancy / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Rats
  • Risk Factors


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Caprylates
  • Fluorocarbons
  • perfluorooctanoic acid
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid