The aim of the present study was to assess the impact of chronic exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and methylmercury on visual brain processing in Inuit children from Nunavik (Northern Québec, Canada). Concentrations of total mercury in blood and PCB 153 in plasma had been measured at birth and they were again measured at the time of testing in 102 preschool aged children. Relationships between contaminants and pattern-reversal visual evoked potentials (VEPs) were assessed by multivariate regression analyses, taking into account several potential confounding variables. The possible protective effects of selenium and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids against methylmercury and PCB toxicity were also investigated. Results indicate that exposure to methylmercury and PCBs resulting from fish and sea mammal consumption were associated with alterations of VEP responses, especially for the latency of the N75 and of the P100 components. In contrast, the concomitant intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids was associated with a shorter latency of the P100. However, no significant interactions between nutrients and contaminants were found, contradicting the notion that these nutrients could afford protection against environmental neurotoxicants. Interestingly, significant associations were found with concentrations of neurotoxicants in blood samples collected at the time of testing, i.e. at the preschool age. Our findings suggest that VEP can be used as a valuable tool to assess the developmental neurotoxicity of environmental contaminants in fish-eating populations.
Dietary exposure to persistent organochlorine compounds (POCs) has been found to affect the menstrual cycle in both animals and humans. In Sweden, the major exposure route for POCs is the consumption of fatty fish from the Baltic Sea. Thus, women who eat relatively large amounts of this fish constitute a suitable study group when investigating a possible association between dietary exposure to POC and menstrual cycle disruption. Questionnaires were sent to the exposed women, as well as to a socioeconomically similar cohort of controls, and information was collected on their menstrual cycles. Since the exposed women tended to smoke more than the controls, all results were adjusted for smoking habits. A cohort comparison found that the exposed women on average had 0.46 (95% confidence interval: 0.03, 0.89) days shorter menstrual cycles than controls. However, within the exposed cohort no effects were found of the proxy variables early life exposure and high consumption of Baltic Sea fatty fish. The results give some support to previous results from studies on women with similar exposure, but are not conclusive with respect to whether there is a causal association between POC exposure and menstrual cycle disruption.
Evaluating the human effects of combinations of neurotoxicants is extremely difficult. Parallel studies correlating exposure parameters and "surrogate" indicators of neural cell function may represent a promising strategy. Molecular markers such as cholinergic muscarinic receptors (MRs) and monoamine oxidase activity (MAO-B) are expressed not only in brain but also in peripheral blood cells. Measurements of MRs and MAO-B in these easily accessible matrices can provide valuable information on early sub-clinical effects of drugs and chemicals in the CNS. In this paper, examples of application of lymphocyte-MRs and platelet-MAO-B as surrogate markers of CNS function in humans are described. They include (i) neuroepidemiological studies examining 7-year-old members of a birth-cohort at the Faroe-Islands prenatally exposed to elevated concentrations of methylmercury (MeHg) and polychlorinated biphenyls; (ii) clinical investigations in a series of unmedicated children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The neurochemical markers were examined in association with exposure indicators and neuropsychological tests (Faroe Islands Study) or with specific disease symptoms (ADHD children). Studies of this type have produced valuable information on subclinical responses to low/moderate perinatal exposures to MeHg and/or PCBs, and in addition further supported the applicability of these biomarkers in children with subtle neuropsychiatric disorders. Additional studies investigated the ability of MeHg and/or PCBs to modify the expression of genes codifying for the MR subtypes in rat offspring cerebellum at distinct developmental stages. The results demonstrated persistent gender- and age-related differences in MR density and their associated gene expression pathways. Studies on pathways and metabolic networks involved in developmental toxicity may contribute to elucidate the mode of action of environmental pollutant mixtures and also considerably impact on the risk assessment process.
Congenital cryptorchidism, i.e. failure of the testicular descent to the bottom of the scrotum, is a common birth defect. The evidence from epidemiological, wildlife, and animal studies suggests that exposure to mixtures of endocrine disrupting chemicals during fetal development may play a role in its pathogenesis. We aimed to assess the association between cryptorchidism and prenatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans (PCDD/Fs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).
We conducted a case-control study consisting of 44 cryptorchid cases, and 38 controls operated for inguinal hernia, umbilical hernia, or hydrocele at the Turku University Hospital or Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen in 2002-2006. During the operation a subcutaneous adipose tissue biopsy was taken. Samples were analysed for 37 PCBs, 17 PCDD/Fs and 14 PBDEs by gas chromatography-high-resolution mass spectrometry. Chemical concentrations were adjusted for postnatal variation introduced by differences in duration of breastfeeding, age at the operation, and country of origin with a multiple linear regression. Association between adjusted and unadjusted chemical concentrations and the risk of cryptorchidism were analysed with logistic regression to get an estimate for odds ratio (OR) of cryptorchidism per multiplication of chemical concentrations with ca. 2.71 (Napier's constant).
Total-TEq i.e. the WHO-recommended 2,3,7,8-TCDD equivalent quantity of 17 dioxins and 12 dioxin-like PCBs and sum of PCDD/Fs were positively associated with cryptorchidism [OR 3.21 (95% CI 1.29-9.09), OR 3.69 (95% CI 1.45-10.9), respectively], when adjusting for country of origin, the duration the child was breastfed, and age at operation. The association between the sum of PCBs and cryptorchidism was close to significant [OR 1.92 (95% CI 0.98-4.01)], whereas the association between the sum of PBDEs and cryptorchidism was not [OR 0.86 (95% CI 0.47-1.54)]. There were no associations between unadjusted chemical concentrations and the risk of cryptorchidism.
Prenatal exposure to PCDD/Fs and PCDD/F-like PCBs may be associated with increased risk for cryptorchidism. Our finding does not exclude the possibility of an association between the exposure to PBDEs and cryptorchidism.
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BACKGROUND: Bone toxicity has been linked to organochlorine exposure following a few notable poisoning incidents, but epidemiologic studies in populations with environmental organochlorine exposure have yielded inconsistent results. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to investigate whether organochlorine exposure was associated with bone mineral density (BMD) in a population 60-81 years of age (154 males, 167 females) living near the Baltic coast, close to a river contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). METHODS: We measured forearm BMD in participants using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry; and we assessed low BMD using age- and sex-standardized Z-scores. We analyzed blood samples for five dioxin-like PCBs, the three most abundant non-dioxin-like PCBs, and p,p'-dichloro-phenyldichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE). RESULTS: In males, dioxin-like chlorobiphenyl (CB)-118 was negatively associated with BMD; the odds ratio for low BMD (Z-score less than -1) was 1.06 (95% confidence interval, 1.01-1.12) per 10 pg/mL CB-118. The sum of the three most abundant non-dioxin-like PCBs was positively associated with BMD, but not with a decreased risk of low BMD. In females, CB-118 was positively associated with BMD, but this congener did not influence the risk of low BMD in women. CONCLUSIONS: Environmental organochlorine exposures experienced by this population sample since the 1930s in Sweden may have been sufficient to result in sex-specific changes in BMD.
Brucellosis, a worldwide zoonosis, is linked to reproductive problems in primary hosts. A high proportion of Brucella-positive hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) have been detected in the declined Northeast Atlantic stock. High concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have also been discovered in top predators in the Arctic, including the hooded seal, PCB 153 being most abundant. The aim of this study was to assess the pathogenicity of Brucella pinnipedialis hooded seal strain in the mouse model and to evaluate the outcome of Brucella spp. infection after exposure of mice to PCB 153. BALB/c mice were infected with B. pinnipedialis hooded seal strain or Brucella suis 1330, and half from each group was exposed to PCB 153 through the diet. B. pinnipedialis showed a reduced pathogenicity in the mouse model as compared to B. suis 1330. Exposure to PCB 153 affected neither the immunological parameters, nor the outcome of the infection. Altogether this indicates that it is unlikely that B. pinnipedialis contribute to the decline of hooded seals in the Northeast Atlantic.
Observational studies on polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) exposure and hormone-related cancer risk are either inconsistent or lacking. We aimed to assess associations of dietary PCB exposure with breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer risk in middle-aged and elderly women.
We included 36?777 cancer-free women at baseline in 1997 from the prospective population-based Swedish Mammography Cohort. Validated estimates of dietary PCB exposure were obtained via a food frequency questionnaire. Incident cancer cases were ascertained through register linkage.
During 14 years of follow-up, we ascertained 1593, 437 and 195 incident cases of breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer. We found no overall association between dietary PCB exposure and any of these cancer forms. The multivariable-adjusted relative risks comparing women in the highest and lowest tertile of PCB exposure were 0.96 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.75, 1.24), 1.21 (95% CI: 0.73, 2.01) and 0.90 (95% CI: 0.45, 1.79) for breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer. In analyses stratified by factors influencing oestrogen exposure, possibly masking associations with PCBs, indications of higher risks were observed for endometrial cancer.
This study suggests that dietary exposure to PCBs play no critical role in the development of breast, endometrial or ovarian cancer during middle-age and old ages.
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Major food contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are proposed to play a role in the etiology of cardiovascular disease (CVD), but to date the impact of PCBs on cardiovascular health need to be explored.
We assessed the association between validated food frequency questionnaire-based estimates of dietary PCB exposure and risk of myocardial infarction, ascertained through register-linkage, among 36,759 men from the population-based Swedish Cohort of Men, free of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer at baseline (1997). Relative risks were adjusted for known cardiovascular risk factors, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids) and methyl mercury exposure. During 12years of follow-up (433,243 person-years), we ascertained 3005 incident cases of myocardial infarction (654 fatal). Compared with the lowest quintile of dietary PCB exposure (median 113ng/day), men in the highest quintile (median 436ng/day) had multivariable-adjusted relative risks of 1.74 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.30-2.33; p-trend
A large cluster of beak abnormalities among black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) in Alaska raised concern about underlying environmental factors in this region. Metals and trace elements, organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polychlorinated dibenzo-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDD-Fs) were analyzed in adults, nestlings, and eggs of the affected population; local bird seed was also tested for organochlorine pesticides. The results offered no support for the hypothesis that selenium or any other inorganic element was responsible for beak deformities among chickadees, but some evidence that organochlorine compounds may be contributing factors. Adults with beak deformities had an elevated level of chromosomal damage, which was correlated with lipid level and concentrations of several organochlorine compounds. Multivariate analyses of pesticides and PCBs did not distinguish abnormal from normal adults, but subsequent univariate analysis demonstrated higher concentrations of heptachlor epoxide and PCB-123 in abnormal adults. Concentrations of all organochlorine compounds were low, and none is known to cause beak or keratin abnormalities. Patterns of PCB congener concentrations differed between nestlings with normal and abnormal parents. Eggs from clutches with low hatchability had higher concentrations of hexachlorobenzene and PCDD-Fs than those with high hatching success, and hexachlorobenzene was found in seeds. Additional testing for PCDD-Fs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and other emerging contaminants, including brominated compounds, is needed to rule out environmental contaminants as a cause of beak deformities in chickadees in Alaska.
Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes located at the end of chromosomes, which play an important role in maintaining the genomic integrity. Telomeres shorten at each cell division and previous studies have shown that telomere length is related to health and lifespan and can be affected by a wide range of environmental factors. Among them, some persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have the potential to damage DNA. However, the effect of POPs on telomeres is poorly known for wildlife. Here, we investigated the relationships between some legacy POPs (organochlorine pesticides and polychlorobiphenyls) and telomere length in breeding adult black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla), an arctic seabird species. Our results show that among legacy POPs, only blood concentration of oxychlordane, the major metabolite of chlordane mixture, is associated with shorter telomere length in females but not in males. This suggests that female kittiwakes could be more sensitive to oxychlordane, potentially explaining the previously reported lower survival rate in most oxychlordane-contaminated kittiwakes from the same population. This study is the first to report a significant and negative relationship between POPs and telomere length in a free-living bird and highlights sex-related susceptibility to banned pesticides.