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Environ Health Perspect. 2017 Jan;125(1):111-118. doi: 10.1289/EHP142. Epub 2016 May 24.

The Association of Prenatal Exposure to Perfluorinated Chemicals with Glucocorticoid and Androgenic Hormones in Cord Blood Samples: The Hokkaido Study.

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Center for Environmental and Health Sciences, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan.



Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) disrupt cholesterol homeostasis. All steroid hormones are derived from cholesterol, and steroid hormones such as glucocorticoids and androgenic hormones mediate several vital physiologic functions. However, the in utero effects of PFCs exposure on the homeostasis of these steroid hormones are not well understood in humans.


We examined the relationship between prenatal exposure to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)/perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and cord blood levels of glucocorticoid and androgenic hormones.


We conducted a hospital-based birth cohort study between July 2002 and October 2005 in Sapporo, Japan (n = 514). In total, 185 mother-infant pairs were included in the present study. Prenatal PFOS and PFOA levels in maternal serum samples were measured using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS). Cord blood levels of glucocorticoid (cortisol and cortisone) and androgenic hormones [dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and androstenedione] were also measured in the same way.


We found a dose-response relationship of prenatal PFOS, but not PFOA, exposure with glucocorticoid levels after adjusting for potential confounders. Cortisol and cortisone concentrations were -23.98-ng/mL (95% CI: -0.47.12, -11.99; p for trend = 0.006) and -63.21-ng/mL (95% CI: -132.56, -26.72; p for trend < 0.001) lower, respectively, in infants with prenatal PFOS exposure in the fourth quartile compared with those in the first quartile. The highest quartile of prenatal PFOS exposure was positively associated with a 1.33-ng/mL higher DHEA level compared with the lowest quartile (95% CI: 0.17, 1.82; p for trend = 0.017), whereas PFOA showed a negative association with DHEA levels (quartile 4 vs. quartile 1: -1.23 ng/mL, 95% CI: -1.72, -0.25; p for trend = 0.004). We observed no significant association between PFCs and androstenedione levels.


Our results indicate that prenatal exposure to PFCs is significantly associated with glucocorticoid and DHEA levels in cord blood. Citation: Goudarzi H, Araki A, Itoh S, Sasaki S, Miyashita C, Mitsui T, Nakazawa H, Nonomura K, Kishi R. 2017. The association of prenatal exposure to perfluorinated chemicals with glucocorticoid and androgenic hormones in cord blood samples: the Hokkaido Study. Environ Health Perspect 125:111-118;

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