Paraben Exposure Related To Purine Metabolism and Other Pathways Revealed by Mass Spectrometry-Based Metabolomics

Environ Sci Technol. 2020 Mar 17;54(6):3447-3454. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.9b07634. Epub 2020 Mar 6.


Parabens are widely used as common preservatives in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Exposure to parabens has been found to be associated with metabolic alterations of human and an increased risk of metabolic disease, such as diabetes. However, limited information is available about metabolic pathways related to paraben exposure. In this study, three parabens were determined in the urine samples of 88 pregnant women by using ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography coupled with triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (UHPLC-QqQ MS). The samples were divided into different groups based on tertile distribution of urinary paraben concentrations. Metabolic profiling of the 88 urine samples was performed by using UHPLC coupled with Orbitrap high-resolution MS. Differential metabolites were screened by comparing the profiles of urine samples from different paraben-exposure groups. The identified metabolites included purines, acylcarnitines, etc., revealing that metabolic pathways such as purine metabolism, fatty acid β-oxidation, and other pathways were disturbed by parabens. Eighteen and three metabolites were correlated (Spearman correlation analysis, p < 0.05) with the exposure levels of methyparaben and propylparaben, respectively. This is the first MS-based nontargeted metabolomics study on pregnant women with paraben exposure. The findings reveal the potential health risk of exposure to parabens and might help one to understand the link between paraben exposure and some metabolic diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Metabolomics
  • Parabens*
  • Pregnancy
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical*
  • Purines


  • Parabens
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical
  • Purines