Dynamics of organohalogenated contaminants in human serum from obese individuals during one year of weight loss treatment

Environ Sci Technol. 2013;47(21):12441-9. doi: 10.1021/es400657t. Epub 2013 Oct 10.


We investigated the dynamics of several organohalogenated contaminants (OHCs) and their metabolites in an obese population during weight loss. Serum samples from obese individuals were taken before patients lost weight and after three, six, and twelve months. Samples were also collected from a matched lean control population. Analyzed OHCs were polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and their hydroxylated metabolites (HO-PCBs), pentachlorophenol (PCP), polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and organochlorine pesticides (OCPs). Significantly lower concentrations of major PCBs, their metabolites, and PCP were measured in obese individuals at the initial moment of their enrolling in the project. While dilution differences might be responsible for the lower concentrations in the neutral OHCs, we suggest that a lower CYP-mediated metabolic activity can partially explain the data for the HO-PCBs. Additionally, lower chlorinated substituted PCBs had a higher percentage contribution to the sum PCBs in obese individuals, while higher chlorinated PCBs had a higher contribution for the controls. Increasing serum levels for all OHCs were observed during weight loss. The release from adipose tissue seemed dependent on the octanol-water partition coefficient, since OHCs with higher log Kow values displayed a higher release in serum. This also influenced the HO-PCBs profile after weight loss with lower chlorinated HO-PCBs increasingly gaining importance. Although weight loss is beneficial, it also influences the release of OHCs from adipose tissue and their metabolism. Therefore, the increase in the levels of compounds with endocrine effects might be of concern.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Belgium
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Weight Loss*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated