Andrew Patterson, Ph.D.
Pennsylvania State University
Exposure to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) altered the gut microbiome in mice, according to a new NIEHS-funded study. The team also found evidence that PFOS-associated changes to the microbiome led to metabolic changes in mice, which suggested a possible mechanism for the hepatic effects induced by PFOS, according to the authors.
The research team compared mice fed a normal diet with those fed a diet with higher concentrations of PFOS than what the average human might experience. They examined the livers and gut microbiota of mice using DNA sequencing, metabolomics, and molecular analyses to determine whether exposure to PFOS altered the gut microbiome and whether these changes were associated with altered gene expression.
Even at the lowest dose, the structure and function of the gut microbiome in PFOS-exposed mice differed markedly from that of the control mice. The authors observed dose-dependent changes in liver metabolic pathways, including those involved with carbohydrate and energy metabolism, oxidative stress, and inflammation. The metabolic changes were explained by changes in genes that regulate these pathways. These changes were highly associated with changes in the gut microbiome caused by PFOS exposure.
According to the authors, this study demonstrates that the molecular and biochemical changes caused by PFOS are controlled, in part, by the microbiome, which, in turn, alters gene expression and the metabolism of mice.
Citation: Zhang L, Rimal B, Nichols RG, Tian Y, Smith PB, Hatzakis E, Chang SC, Butenhoff JL, Peters JM, Patterson AD. 2020. Perfluorooctane sulfonate alters gut microbiota-host metabolic homeostasis in mice. Toxicology 431:152365.