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Complex Relationships Between Perfluorooctanoate, Body Mass Index, Insulin Resistance and Serum Lipids in Young Girls


Complex Relationships Between Perfluorooctanoate, Body Mass Index, Insulin Resistance and Serum Lipids in Young Girls

Cecily S Fassler et al. Environ Res.


Background: Perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) has been used extensively in the manufacture of both commercial and household products. PFOA serum concentrations have been associated with adverse health effects, including lower body mass in children and infants.

Objective: To determine if there is an association between serum PFOA concentration and body mass, serum insulin and lipid profile in exposed young girls.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of PFAS environmental biomarkers and insulin resistance in 6 to 8 year-old girls from Greater Cincinnati (n=353). In 2004-2006, blood samples were obtained to measure polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), fasting insulin, glucose and lipids. Clinical exams included anthropometric measurements and pubertal maturation staging. Linear regression and mediation analyses, specifically structural equation modeling (SEM), were used to determine the strength and direction of the relationships between PFAS, pubertal maturation status, body mass index (BMI), cholesterol and insulin resistance.

Results: The median PFOA (7.7ng/ml) was twice the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2005-2006). Only PFOA, a PFAS sub-species, showed statistically significant relationships with the outcomes. In regression models, PFOA was associated with decreased BMI and waist-to-height ratio (p=0.0008; p=0.0343), HDL-cholesterol (p=0.0046) and had a borderline inverse association with the HOMA Index of insulin resistance (p=0.0864). In SEM, PFOA retained an inverse relationship with BMI (p<0.0001) but the relationships with HOMA and HDL-cholesterol were no longer statistically significant. Pubertal initiation (Tanner breast or pubic stage 2 or greater) and BMI were associated with increased HOMA Index (p<0.0001).

Conclusions: These findings suggest PFOA exposure in young girls affects both BMI and ultimately insulin resistance. In mediation analysis with puberty in the model, the direct effects of PFOA on insulin resistance and were reduced.

Keywords: Children; Cholesterol; Insulin resistance; Perfluorooctanoate; Structural equation modeling.

Conflict of interest statement


Authors have no conflicts of interest to report.

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