Environment international

Identification of a sulfate metabolite of PCB 11 in human serum.

PMID 27816204


Despite increasing evidence for a major role for sulfation in the metabolism of lower-chlorinated polychlorinated biphenyls in vitro and in vivo, and initial evidence for potential bioactivities of the resulting sulfate ester metabolites, the formation of PCB sulfates in PCB exposed human populations had not been explored. The primary goal of this study was to determine if PCB sulfates, and potentially other conjugated PCB derivatives, are relevant classes of PCB metabolites in the serum of humans with known exposures to PCBs. In order to detect and quantify dichlorinated PCB sulfates in serum samples of 46 PCB-exposed individuals from either rural or urban communities, we developed a high-resolution mass spectrometry-based protocol using 4-PCB 11 sulfate as a model compound. The method also allowed the preliminary analysis of these 46 human serum extracts for the presence of other metabolites, such as glucuronic acid conjugates and hydroxylated PCBs. Sulfate ester metabolites derived from dichlorinated PCBs were detectable and quantifiable in more than 20% of analyzed serum samples. Moreover, we were able to utilize this method to detect PCB glucuronides and hydroxylated PCBs, albeit at lower frequencies than PCB sulfates. Altogether, our results provide initial evidence for the presence of PCB sulfates in human serum. Considering the inability of previously employed analytical protocols for PCBs to extract these sulfate ester metabolites and the concentrations of these metabolites observed in our current study, our data support the hypothesis that total serum levels of PCB metabolites in exposed individuals may have been underestimated in the past.

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