Comparison of lipid-normalised concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) between serum and adipose tissue

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2021 Jul:236:113801. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2021.113801. Epub 2021 Jul 6.


Human biomonitoring of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is typically based on serum analysis and for comparison and modelling purposes, data are often normalised to the lipid content of the serum. Such approach assumes a steady state of the compound between the serum lipids and for example lipid-rich adipose tissue. Few published data are available to assess the validity of this assumption. The aim of this study was to measure concentrations of POPs in both serum and adipose tissue samples from 32 volunteers and compare the lipid-normalised concentrations between serum and adipose tissue. For p,p'-DDE, PCB-138, PCB-153 and PCB-180, lipid-normalised adipose tissue concentrations were positively correlated to the respective serum concentrations but generally were more highly concentrated in adipose tissue. These results suggest that the investigated legacy POPs that were consistently found in paired samples may often not be in a steady state between the lipid compartments of the human body. Consequently, the analysis of serum lipids as a surrogate for adipose tissue exposure may more often than not underestimate total body burden of POPs. Further research is warranted to confirm the findings of this study.

Keywords: Exposure; Human; Lipid compartments; Persistent organic pollutants.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • Environmental Pollutants*
  • Humans
  • Lipids
  • Persistent Organic Pollutants
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Lipids
  • Dichlorodiphenyl Dichloroethylene
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls