Environmental and human relevant PFOS and PFOA doses alter human mesenchymal stem cell self-renewal, adipogenesis and osteogenesis

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2019 Mar;169:564-572. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2018.11.064. Epub 2018 Nov 24.


PFOS and PFOA are two of the most abundant perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in the environment. Previous studies have reported they have a long half-life (up to five years) once they enter into the human body. Moreover, they can potentially promote the adipogenic process by activating PPARγ. However, little is known about PFOS and PFOA chronic health impacts on humans. In this study, we employed primary human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) and demonstrated that PFOS and PFOA exerted acute cytotoxicity and affected adipogenesis and osteogenesis at environmental and human relevant doses. In fact, PFOS and PFOA impaired the proper expression of CD90 (a surface antigen highly enriched in undifferentiated hMSCs) and promoted adipogenesis, presumably via their interaction with PPARγ. Moreover, PFOA partly disturbed osteogenesis. Thus, our findings not only validated the health risks of PFOS and PFOA, but also revealed new potential long-term PFOS/PFOA impacts on humans.

Keywords: CD90; Developmental toxicity; Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs); Osteogenesis; PFOS/PFOA; PPARγ.

MeSH terms

  • Adipogenesis / drug effects*
  • Alkanesulfonic Acids / toxicity*
  • Caprylates / toxicity*
  • Cell Self Renewal / drug effects*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Fluorocarbons / toxicity*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / immunology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Osteogenesis / drug effects*
  • Thy-1 Antigens / genetics


  • Alkanesulfonic Acids
  • Caprylates
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Thy-1 Antigens
  • perfluorooctanoic acid
  • perfluorooctane sulfonic acid