Serum metabolome biomarkers associate low-level environmental perfluorinated compound exposure with oxidative /nitrosative stress in humans

Environ Pollut. 2017 Oct;229:168-176. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2017.04.086. Epub 2017 Jun 6.


Previous in vivo and in vitro studies have linked perfluorinated compound (PFC) exposure with metabolic interruption, but the inter-species difference and high treatment doses usually make the results difficult to be extrapolated to humans directly. The best strategy for identifying the metabolic interruption may be to establish the direct correlations between monitored PFCs data and metabolic data on human samples. In this study, serum metabolome data and PFC concentrations were acquired for a Chinese adult male cohort. The most abundant PFCs are PFOA and PFOS with concentration medians 7.56 and 12.78 nM, respectively; in together they count around 81.6% of the total PFCs. PFC concentration-related serum metabolic profile changes and the related metabolic biomarkers were explored by using partial least squares-discriminant analysis (PLS-DA). Respectively taking PFOS, PFOA and total PFC as the classifiers, serum metabolome can be differentiated between the lowest dose group (1st quartile PFCs) and the highest PFC dose group (4th quartile PFCs). Ten potential PFC biomarkers were identified, mainly involving in pollutant detoxification, antioxidation and nitric oxide (NO) signal pathways. These suggested that low-level environmental PFC exposure has significantly adverse impacts on glutathione (GSH) cycle, Krebs cycle, nitric oxide (NO) generation and purine oxidation in humans. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report investigating the association of environmental PFC exposure with human serum metabolome alteration. Given the important biological functions of the identified biomarkers, we suggest that PFC could increase the metabolism syndromes risk including diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Keywords: Metabolome; Nitrosative stress; Oxidative stress; Perfluorinated compound; Serum.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / analysis
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Fluorocarbons / analysis
  • Fluorocarbons / metabolism
  • Fluorocarbons / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolome / physiology*
  • Nitrosative Stress / physiology*


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Biomarkers
  • Fluorocarbons