When reporting circulating levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), usually lipid-normalized values are given. However, animal experiments and some human data indicate that exposure to POPs may change lipid values. The aim of the present study is to investigate if POP levels can predict future changes in levels of circulating lipids. In the population-based Prospective Investigation of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS) study, lipids were measured at age 70 and at age 75 in 598 subjects without lipid-lowering medication. Twenty-three different POPs, including 16 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), five organochlorine pesticides, one dioxin (OCDD) and one flame retardant brominated compound (BDE47) were analyzed by high-resolution chromatography coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRGC/HRMS) at age 70. Strong relationships were seen among the baseline levels of the non-dioxin-like PCBs 194, 206 and 209 and the degree of increase in total serum cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol during the 5 year follow-up. These relationships were generally stronger when lipid-normalized levels were used compared to wet-weight based levels. On the contrary, for two of the pesticides, hexachlorobenzene and trans-nonachlordane, levels were inversely related to the change in LDL-cholesterol, with strongest associations found using wet-weight based levels. PCBs 194, 206 and 209 were inversely related to the change in HDL-cholesterol, in particular for wet-weight based levels. However, these relationships were only significant for wet-weight PCB 194 following adjustment for multiple testing. None of the POPs was related to the change in serum triglycerides. When investigating the association between the change in total serum cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol across different categories of change in BMI, we noted robust results especially in the group with stable BMI, suggesting that the observed relationships were not due to fluctuations in BMI over time. In conclusion, POPs are related to the change in lipids over time, especially LDL-cholesterol. This may explain why POP exposure previously has been linked to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
Keywords: Lipid-normalized; Lipids; Persistent organic pollutants; Prospective; Wet-weight.
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