A review of omics-based PFAS exposure studies reveals common biochemical response pathways


Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a diverse group of man-made chemicals with a range of industrial applications which are widespread in the environment. PFAS are of high concern to regulators and the public due to their potential toxicity and high persistence. They are structurally diverse but comprise a common chemical feature of at least one (though usually more) perfluorocarbon moiety (-CnF2n-) attached to a functional group such as a carboxylic or sulphonic acid. The strength of the Carbon-Fluorine bond means the compounds do not break down easily and they can thus bioaccumulate. At high exposure levels, PFAS has been implicated in a range of harmful effects on human and environmental health, particularly problems in/with development, cholesterol and endocrine disruption, immune system function, and oncogenesis. However, most environmental toxicology studies use far higher levels of PFAS than are generally found in the environment. Additionally, since the type of exposure, the PFAS used, and the organisms tested all vary between studies, so do the results. Traditional ecotoxicology studies may thus not identify PFAS effects at environmentally relevant exposures. Here we conduct a review of omics-based PFAS exposure studies using laboratory ecotox methodologies and environmentally relevant exposure levels and show that common biochemical response pathways are identified in multiple studies. A major pathway identified common among the literature data was the pentose phosphate shunt pathway. Such molecular markers of sublethal PFAS exposure will greatly benefit accurate and effective risk assessments to ensure that new PFAS regulations can consider the full effects of PFAS exposure on environmental and human health receptors.

Authors: David J Beale, Georgia Sinclair, Rohan Shah, Amy Paten, Anupama Kumar, Sara M Long, Suzanne Vardy, Oliver A H Jones
; Full Source: The Science of the total environment 2022 Jul 8;157255. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.157255.