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J Immunotoxicol. 2018 Dec;15(1):41-52. doi: 10.1080/1547691X.2018.1445145.

Immunotoxic and hepatotoxic effects of perfluoro-n-decanoic acid (PFDA) on female Harlan Sprague-Dawley rats and B6C3F1/N mice when administered by oral gavage for 28 days.

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a Division of the National Toxicology Program , National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences , Research Triangle Park , NC , USA.
b Richard Bland College of William & Mary , South Prince George , VA , USA.
c Charles River Laboratories, Inc. , Durham , NC , USA.
d Social & Scientific Systems, Inc. , Durham , NC , USA.


Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are chemically and thermally stable, hydrophobic, lipophobic compounds used in stain repellants and water and oil surfactants, and associated with immunosuppression and peroxisome proliferator activity. Perfluoro-n-decanoic acid (PFDA, (CF3(CF2)8COOH), a fluorinated straight chain fatty acid compound, is reported to induce thymic atrophy and reversible bone marrow hypocellularity in rodent models. The objective of this study was to assess potential immunotoxicity of PFDA, due to its structural similarity to other immunosuppressive PFASs. Female Harlan Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to 0-2.0 mg PFDA/kg by oral gavage daily for 28 d. Female B6C3F1/N mice were exposed once/week to 0-5.0 mg PFDA/kg by gavage for 4 weeks. Animals were evaluated for effects on immune cell populations in spleen and bone marrow, and innate, humoral-, and cell-mediated immunity. Mice were also evaluated for resistance to Influenza virus. Treatment-related hepatocyte necrosis and hepatomegaly were observed in rats treated with 0.5 mg PFDA/kg/d. In mice, hepatomegaly (26-89%) was observed following exposure to ≥0.625 mg PFDA/kg/week, while splenic atrophy (20%) was observed at 5.0 mg PFDA/kg/week. At 5.0 mg PFDA/kg/week, total spleen cells, and Ig + and NK + cells were decreased (17.6-27%). At ≥ 1.25 mg PFDA/kg/week the numbers of splenic CD3+, CD4+, CD8+, and Mac3+ cells were decreased (10.5-39%). No changes were observed in leukocyte subpopulations in PFDA-exposed rats. Phagocytosis by fixed-tissue macrophages was decreased in liver (specific activity, 24-39%) at ≥0.25 mg PFDA/kg/d in rats. PFDA-induced effects on humoral- and cell-mediated immunity, host resistance, and bone marrow progenitor cells were limited. These data suggest that exposure to PFDA may induce adverse effects in rat liver in a manner consistent with the PFAS class, and may also alter the balance of immune cell populations in lymphoid tissues in mice.


Perfluoro-n-decanoic acid (PFDA); hepatotoxicity; poly-/perfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS)

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