Effects of perfluorooctane sulfonate on genes controlling hepatic fatty acid metabolism in livers of chicken embryos

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2018 Aug;25(23):23074-23081. doi: 10.1007/s11356-018-2358-7. Epub 2018 Jun 2.


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are synthetic surfactants with a wide variety of applications; however, due to their stability, they are particularly resistant to degradation and, as such, are classed as persistent organic pollutants. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) is one such PFAS that is still detectable in a range of different environmental settings, despite its use now being regulated in numerous countries. Elevated levels of PFOS have been detected in various avian species, and the impact of this on avian health is of interest when determining acceptable levels of PFOS in the environment. Due to its similarities to naturally occurring fatty acids, PFOS has potential to disrupt a range of biological pathways, particularly those associated with lipid metabolism, and this has been shown in various species. In this study, we have investigated how in ovo exposure to environmentally relevant levels of PFOS affects expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism of developing chicken embryos. We have found a broad suppression of transcription of genes involved in fatty acid oxidation and PPAR-mediated transcription with more significant effects apparent at lower doses of PFOS. These results highlight the need for more research investigating the biological impacts of low levels of PFAS to properly inform environmental policy governing their regulation.

Keywords: Beta oxidation; Chicken; In ovo; PFOS; Perfluorooctane sulfonate; qPCR array.

MeSH terms

  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / adverse effects*
  • Animals
  • Chick Embryo
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Fluorocarbons / adverse effects*
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fluorocarbons
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid