Single PFAS and PFAS mixtures affect nuclear receptor- and oxidative stress-related pathways in precision-cut liver slices of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua)
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The aim of the present study was to investigate effects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), both single compounds and a mixture of these, using precision-cut liver slices (PCLS) from Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). PCLS were exposed for 48 h to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorononanoate (PFNA) (10, 50 and 100 μM), and three mixtures of these at equimolar concentrations (10, 50 and 100 μM). Transcriptomic responses were assessed using RNA sequencing. Among exposures to single PFAS, PFOS produced the highest number of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) compared to PFOA and PFNA (86, 25 and 31 DEGs, respectively). Exposure to the PFAS mixtures resulted in a markedly higher number of DEGs (841). Clustering analysis revealed that the expression pattern of the PFAS mixtures were more similar to PFOS compared to PFOA and PFNA, suggesting that effects induced by the PFAS mixtures may largely be attributed to PFOS. Pathway analysis showed significant enrichment of pathways related to oxidative stress, cholesterol metabolism and nuclear receptors in PFOS-exposed PCLS. Fewer pathways were significantly enriched following PFOA and PFNA exposure alone. Significantly enriched pathways following mixture exposure included lipid biosynthesis, cancer-related pathways, nuclear receptor pathways and oxidative stress-related pathways such as ferroptosis. The expression of most of the genes within these pathways was increased following PFAS exposure. Analysis of non-additive effects in the 100 μM PFAS mixture highlighted genes involved in the antioxidant response and membrane transport, among others, and the majority of these genes had synergistic expression patterns in the mixture. Nevertheless, 90% of the DEGs following mixture exposure showed additive expression patterns, suggesting additivity to be the major mixture effect. In summary, PFAS exposure promoted effects on cellular processes involved in oxidative stress, nuclear receptor pathways and sterol metabolism in cod PCLS, with the strongest effects observed following PFAS mixture exposure.