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Distinct transcriptional response of Caenorhabditis elegans to different exposure routes of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid

Stylianou, Marios, Björnsdotter, Maria K., Olsson, Per-Erik, Ericson Jogsten, Ingrid, Jass, Jana
Environmental research 2019 v.168 pp. 406-413
Caenorhabditis elegans, Escherichia coli, animals, bacteria, bacterial biomass, binding capacity, chemical analysis, children, gene expression, gene expression regulation, genes, heat stress, heavy metals, infectious diseases, innate immunity, neoplasms, pathogens, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, risk, transcription (genetics)
Although people are exposed daily to per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFASs), the biological consequences are poorly explored. The health risks associated with PFAS exposure are currently based on chemical analysis with a weak correlation to potential harmful effects in man and animals. In this study, we show that perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), often the most enriched PFAS in the environment, can be transferred via bacteria to higher organisms such as Caenorhabditis elegans. C. elegans nematodes were exposed to PFOS directly in buffer or by feeding on bacteria pretreated with PFOS, and this led to distinct gene expression profiles. Specifically, heavy metal and heat shock associated genes were significantly, although inversely, expressed following the different PFOS exposures. The innate immunity receptor for microbial pathogens, clec-60, was shown for the first time to be down-regulated by PFOS. This is in line with a previous study indicating that PFOS is associated with children's susceptibility to certain infectious diseases. Furthermore, bar-1, a gene associated with various cancers was highly up-regulated only when C. elegans were exposed to PFOS pretreated live bacteria. Furthermore, dead bacterial biomass had higher binding capacity for linear and isomeric PFOS than live bacteria, which correlated to the higher levels of PFOS detected in C. elegans when fed the treated E. coli, respectively. These results reveal new aspects concerning trophic chain transport of PFOS.