Sex-specific Risk Assessment of PFHxS Using a Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic Model

Arch Toxicol. 2018 Mar;92(3):1113-1131. doi: 10.1007/s00204-017-2116-5. Epub 2017 Nov 16.


Perfluorohexanesulfonate (PFHxS), which belongs to the group of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), has been extensively used in industry and subsequently detected in the environment. Its use may be problematic, as PFHxS is known to induce neuronal cell death, and has been associated with early onset menopause in women and with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Due to these impending issues, the aim of this study is to develop and evaluate a physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model for PFHxS in male and female rats, and apply this to a human health risk assessment. We conducted this study in vivo after the oral or intravenous administration of PFHxS in male (dose of 10 mg/kg) and female rats (dose of 0.5-10 mg/kg). The biological samples consisted of plasma, nine tissues, urine, and feces. We analyzed the sample using ultra-liquid chromatography coupled tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS). Our findings showed the tissue-plasma partition coefficients for PFHxS were highest in the liver. The predicted rat plasma and tissue concentrations using a simulation fitted well with the observed values. We extrapolated the PBPK model in male and female rats to a human PBPK model of PFHxS based on human physiological parameters. The reference doses of 0.711 µg/kg/day (male) and 0.159 µg/kg/day (female) and external doses of 0.007 µg/kg/day (male) and 0.006 µg/kg/day (female) for human risk assessment were estimated using Korean biomonitoring values. This study provides valuable insight into human health risk assessment regarding PFHxS exposure.

Keywords: Human health risk assessment; PBPK; Perfluorohexanesulfonate (PFHxS); Rat.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sulfonic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Sulfonic Acids / pharmacokinetics*
  • Sulfonic Acids / toxicity*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Blood Proteins
  • Sulfonic Acids
  • perfluorohexanesulfonic acid