Longitudinal exposure to consumer product chemicals and changes in plasma oxylipins in pregnant women

Environ Int. 2021 Dec:157:106787. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2021.106787. Epub 2021 Jul 24.


Background: Exposure to consumer product chemicals during pregnancy may increase susceptibility to pregnancy disorders by influencing maternal inflammation. However, effects on specific inflammatory pathways have not been well characterized. Oxylipins are a diverse class of lipids that act as important mediators and biomarkers of several biological pathways that regulate inflammation. Adverse pregnancy outcomes have been associated with circulating oxylipin levels in pregnancy. In this study, we aimed to determine the longitudinal associations between plasma oxylipins and urinary biomarkers of three classes of consumer product chemicals among pregnant women.

Methods: Data come from a study of 90 pregnant women nested within the LIFECODES cohort. Maternal plasma and urine were collected at three prenatal visits. Plasma was analyzed for 61 oxylipins, which were grouped according to biosynthetic pathways that we defined by upstream: 1) fatty acid precursor, including linoleic, arachidonic, docosahexaenoic, or eicosapentaenoic acid; and 2) enzyme pathway, including cyclooxygenase (COX), lipoxygenase (LOX), or cytochrome P450 (CYP). Urine was analyzed for 12 phenol, 12 phthalate, and 9 organophosphate ester (OPE) biomarkers. Linear mixed effect models were used for single-pollutant analyses. We implemented a novel extension of quantile g-computation for longitudinal data to examine the joint effect of class-specific chemical mixtures on individual plasma oxylipin concentrations.

Results: We found that urinary biomarkers of consumer product chemicals were positively associated with pro-inflammatory oxylipins from several biosynthetic pathways. Importantly, these associations depended upon the chemical class of exposure biomarker. We estimated positive associations between urinary phenol biomarkers and oxylipins produced from arachidonic acid by LOX enzymes, including several important pro-inflammatory hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids (HETEs). On average, mean concentrations of oxylipin produced from the arachidonic acid/LOX pathway were 48%-71% higher per quartile increase in the phenol biomarker mixture. For example, a simultaneous quartile increase in all urinary phenols was associated with 53% higher (95% confidence interval [CI]: 11%, 111%) concentrations of 12-HETE. The positive associations among phenols were primarily driven by methyl paraben, 2,5-dichlorophenol, and triclosan. Additionally, we observed that phthalate and OPE metabolites were associated with higher concentrations of oxylipins produced from linoleic acid by CYP enzymes, including the pro-inflammatory dihydroxy-octadecenoic acids (DiHOMEs). Associations among DiHOME oxylipins were driven by metabolites of benzylbutyl and di-isodecyl phthalate, and by the metabolite of tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate among OPEs. We also observed inverse associations between phthalate and OPE metabolites and oxylipins produced from other pathways; however, adjusting for a plasma indicator of dietary fatty acid intake attenuated those results.

Conclusions: Our findings support the hypothesis that consumer product chemicals may have diverse impacts on inflammation processes in pregnancy. Certain pro-inflammatory oxylipins were generally higher among participants with higher urinary chemical biomarker concentrations. Associations varied by class of chemical and by the biosynthetic pathway of oxylipin production, indicating potential specificity in the inflammatory effects of these environmental chemicals during pregnancy that warrant investigation in larger studies.

Keywords: Bioactive lipid; Endocrine disruptor; Inflammation; Oxylipin; Personal care product; Pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Oxylipins*
  • Phenols
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Pregnant Women*


  • Oxylipins
  • Phenols