Occurrence and distribution of PCB metabolites in blood and their potential health effects in humans: a review

In recent years, attention has been directed to chemicals with possible endocrine-disrupting properties. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and their metabolites belong to one group of environmental contaminants that have been shown to interact with the endocrine system in mammals, including humans. Although recent developments have been made in terms of determination of PCB metabolites in blood samples, still limited number of studies have been able to elucidate their profiles and toxicological and health effects in humans. This review aims to evaluate and compare the levels of hydroxylated PCBs (OH-PCBs) and methyl sulfone PCBs (MeSO2-PCBs) in blood and their relationship to parent compounds and also address the potential risks and adverse health effects in humans. Levels of OH-PCBs varied between 0.0002 and 1.6 ng g(-1) w/w in human serum/plasma from the selected literature, correlating well with ?PCBs. In contrast, ?OH-PCB/?PCB ratio in animals did not show a significant correlation, which might suggest that the bioaccumulation plays an even more important role in the concentration of OH-PCBs compared to PCB metabolism. Highest levels of MeSO2-PCBs were reported in marine mammals with high selectivity retention in the liver. Health effects of PCB metabolites included carcinogenicity, reproductive impairment, and developmental neurotoxicity, being more efficiently transferred to the brain and across the placenta from mother to foetus in comparison to the parent PCBs. The authors concluded that based on the lack of knowledge on the occurrence and distribution of lower chlorinated OH-PCBs in humans, further studies to identify and assess the risks associated to human exposure are essential.

Authors: Quinete N, Schettgen T, Bertram J, Kraus T. ;Full Source: Environmental Science & Pollution Research International. 2014 Oct;21(20):11951-72. doi:10.1007/s11356-014-3136-9. Epub 2014 Jun 19. ;