Association between perfluoroalkyl acids and kidney function in a cross-sectional study of adolescents

Environ Health. 2015 Nov 21;14:89. doi: 10.1186/s12940-015-0077-9.


Background: Perfluoroalkyl acids are synthetic compounds widely used in industrial and commercial applications. Laboratory studies suggest that these persistent and bioaccumulative chemicals produce oxidant stress and damage glomerular endothelial cells, raising concern regarding the impact of these compounds on renal function.

Methods: We performed cross-sectional analyses of data 1960 participants aged 12-19 years of the 2003-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. PFAA exposure was assessed using levels of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorononanoic acid, and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid. Primary study outcomes were estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and serum uric acid.

Results: While adjusting for demographics, cotinine, prehypertension, insulin resistance, body mass index, and hypercholesterolemia, adolescents in the highest PFOA and PFOS quartile had a lower eGFR, 6.84 mL/min/1.73 m(2) (95% CI: 2.19 to 11.48) and 9.69 mL/min/1.73 m(2) (95 % CI: -4.59 to 14.78), respectively, compared to the lowest quartile. Highest PFOA and PFOS quartiles were also associated with 0.21 mg/dL (95% CI: 0.056 to 0.37) and 0.19 mg/dL (95% CI: 0.032 to 0.34) increases in uric acid, respectively.

Conclusions: PFAAs are associated with a reduction in kidney function and increased uric acid levels in otherwise healthy adolescents. Reverse causation and residual confounding could explain the results. Our study results confirm and amplify previous findings, though longitudinal studies examining prenatal and childhood biomarkers in relationship with robust measures of childhood renal function are needed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / blood
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / toxicity*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Caprylates / blood
  • Caprylates / toxicity*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants / blood
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Fluorocarbons / blood
  • Fluorocarbons / toxicity*
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Sulfonic Acids / blood
  • Sulfonic Acids / toxicity*
  • United States
  • Uric Acid / blood


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Biomarkers
  • Caprylates
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Sulfonic Acids
  • Uric Acid
  • perfluorohexanesulfonic acid
  • perfluorononanoic acid
  • perfluorooctanoic acid
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid