Antibiotic induced restructuring of the gut microbiota does not affect oral uptake and accumulation of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in rats

Claus Asger Lykkebo*, Martin Steen Mortensen, Nichlas Davidsen, Martin Iain Bahl, Louise Ramhøj, Kit Granby, Terje Svingen, Tine Rask Licht*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) is a manmade legacy compound belonging to the group of persistent per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS). While many adverse health effects of PFOS have been identified, knowledge about its effect on the intestinal microbiota is scarce. The microbial community inhabiting the gut of mammals plays an important role in health, for instance by affecting the uptake, excretion, and bioavailability of some xenobiotic toxicants. Here, we investigated (i) the effect of vancomycin-mediated microbiota modulation on the uptake of PFOS in adult Sprague-Dawley rats, and (ii) the effects of PFOS exposure on the rat microbiota composition. Four groups of twelve rats were exposed daily for 7 days with either 3 mg/kg PFOS plus 8 mg/kg vancomycin, only PFOS, only vancomycin, or a corn oil control. Vancomycin-induced modulation of the gut microbiota composition did not affect uptake of branched and linear PFOS over a period of 7 days, measured in serum samples. 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing of faecal and intestinal samples revealed that vancomycin treatment lowered microbial alpha-diversity, while PFOS increased the microbial diversity in vancomycin-treated as well as in non-antibiotic treated animals, possibly because an observed decrease in the Enterobacteriaceae abundance allows other microbial species to propagate. Colonic short-chain fatty acids were significantly lower in vancomycin-treated animals but remained unaffected by PFOS. Our results suggest that PFOS exposure may disturb the intestinal microbiota, but that antibiotic-induced modulation of the intestinal ecosystem does not affect systemic uptake of PFOS in rats.
Original languageEnglish
Article number122179
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • PFOS
  • Gut microbiome
  • Risk assessment
  • Uptake
  • Antibiotics


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