Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances and bone mineral density: Results from the Bayesian weighted quantile sum regression

Environ Epidemiol. 2020 Apr 30;4(3):e092. doi: 10.1097/EE9.0000000000000092. eCollection 2020 Jun.


Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are chemicals, detected in 95% of Americans, that induce osteotoxicity and modulate hormones, thereby influencing bone health. Previous studies found associations between individual PFAS and bone mineral density in adults but did not analyze their combined effects.

Objective: To extend weighted quantile sum (WQS) regression to a Bayesian framework (Bayesian extension of the WQS regression [BWQS]) and determine the association between a mixture of serum PFAS and mineral density in lumbar spine, total, and neck femur in 499 adults from the 2013 to 2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Methods: We used BWQS to assess the combined association of eight PFAS, as a mixture, with bone mineral density in adults. As secondary analyses, we focused on vulnerable populations (men over 50 years and postmenopausal women). Analyses were adjusted for sociodemographic factors. Sensitivity analyses included bone mineral density associations with individual compounds and results from WQS regressions.

Results: The mean age was 55 years old (SD = 1) with average spine, total, and neck femur mineral densities of 1.01 (SD = 0.01), 0.95 (SD = 0.01), and 0.78 (SD = 0.01) gm/cm2, respectively. PFAS mixture levels showed no evidence of association with mineral density (spine: β = -0.004; 95% credible interval [CrI] = -0.04, 0.04; total femur: β = 0.002; 95% CrI = -0.04, 0.05; femur neck: β = 0.005; 95%CrI = -0.03, 0.04) in the overall population. Results were also null in vulnerable populations. Findings were consistent across sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions: We introduced a Bayesian extension of WQS and found no evidence of the association between PFAS mixture and bone mineral density.

Keywords: Bayesian weighted quantile sum regression; Bone health; Bone mineral density; Mixture; Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).