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Chemosphere. 2007 Sep;69(3):403-10. Epub 2007 Jun 14.

Maternal and cord serum exposure to PCB and DDE methyl sulfone metabolites in eastern Slovakia.

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Department of Environmental Chemistry, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were commercially produced between 1959 and 1984 in eastern Slovakia. Improper handling led to a highly contaminated local environment and high levels of PCBs in humans and wildlife in the Michalovce area. The aim of this study was to analyse serum for methylsulfonyl metabolites of PCB (MeSO(2)-PCBs) and DDE (3-MeSO(2)-DDE) in serum samples from pregnant women and in a selected number of paired cord blood samples to assess maternal sulfone levels and patterns, and transplacental transfer of these metabolites. The donating women were from two districts in eastern Slovakia. A liquid-liquid extraction method together with separation of substance groups and further clean-up on silica gel columns were applied prior to analysis by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. 3-MeSO(2)-DDE was the major methyl sulfone in most of the samples followed by a yet not identified MeSO(2)-hexaCB, 4'-MeSO(2)-CB101, 4'-MeSO(2)-CB87 and 4-MeSO(2)-CB149. The women from the contaminated area had three times higher concentrations of the MeSO(2)-PCBs than women from the reference area. This is the first report on methyl sulfone metabolites of PCB and DDE in human cord serum. It is shown that these metabolites are transported through the placenta. The levels of MeSO(2)-PCBs in the maternal serum were about 1.5 times higher than in the corresponding cord serum on a lipid weight basis. For 3-MeSO(2)-DDE, the levels were about the same in maternal and cord serum. The difference in the maternal:cord ratio, comparing MeSO(2)-PCBs with 3-MeSO(2)-DDE might be due to differences in transport through the placenta caused by their different affinities for lipoproteins and plasma proteins.

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