Fluorochemicals used in food packaging inhibit male sex hormone synthesis

Anna Kjerstine Rosenmai, F. K. Nielsen, Mikael Pedersen, Niels Hadrup, Xenia Trier, J. H. Christensen, Anne Marie Vinggaard

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Polyfluoroalkyl phosphate surfactants (PAPS) are widely used in food contact materials (FCMs) of paper and board and have recently been detected in 57% of investigated materials. Human exposure occurs as PAPS have been measured in blood; however knowledge is lacking on the toxicology of PAPS. The aim of this study was to elucidate the effects of six fluorochemicals on sex hormone synthesis and androgen receptor (AR) activation in vitro. Four PAPS and two metabolites, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and 8:2 fluorotelomer alcohol (8:2 FTOH) were tested. Hormone profiles, including eight steroid hormones, generally showed that 8:2 diPAPS, 8:2 monoPAPS and 8:2 FTOH led to decreases in androgens (testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, and androstenedione) in the H295R steroidogenesis assay. Decreases were observed for progesterone and 17-OH-progesterone as well. These observations indicated that a step prior to progestagen and androgen synthesis had been affected. Gene expression analysis of StAR, Bzrp, CYP11A, CYP17, CYP21 and CYP19 mRNA showed a decrease in Bzrp mRNA levels for 8:2 monoPAPS and 8:2 FTOH indicating interference with cholesterol transport to the inner mitochondria. Cortisol, estrone and 17β-estradiol levels were in several cases increased with exposure. In accordance with these data CYP19 gene expression increased with 8:2 diPAPS, 8:2 monoPAPS and 8:2 FTOH exposures indicating that this is a contributing factor to the decreased androgen and the increased estrogen levels. Overall, these results demonstrate that fluorochemicals present in food packaging materials and their metabolites can affect steroidogenesis through decreased Bzrp and increased CYP19 gene expression leading to lower androgen and higher estrogen levels.
Original languageEnglish
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)132-142
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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