Metabolism and metabolites of polychlorinated biphenyls

Crit Rev Toxicol. 2015 Mar;45(3):245-72. doi: 10.3109/10408444.2014.999365. Epub 2015 Jan 28.


Abstract The metabolism of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) is complex and has an impact on toxicity, and thereby on the assessment of PCB risks. A large number of reactive and stable metabolites are formed in the processes of biotransformation in biota in general, and in humans in particular. The aim of this document is to provide an overview of PCB metabolism, and to identify the metabolites of concern and their occurrence. Emphasis is given to mammalian metabolism of PCBs and their hydroxyl, methylsulfonyl, and sulfated metabolites, especially those that persist in human blood. Potential intracellular targets and health risks are also discussed.

Keywords: PCB methyl sulfones; PCB sulfates; human exposure; hydroxylated PCBs; polychlorobiphenylols; reactive intermediates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism*
  • Environmental Pollutants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / blood
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / metabolism*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / pharmacokinetics*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / toxicity


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls