The potential toxicity of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), an environmentally persistent organic pollutant, is of great concern. The present study examines the ability of PFOS to disturb thyroid function and the possible mechanisms involved in PFOS-induced thyroid hormone alteration. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to 1.7, 5.0, and 15.0 mg/L of PFOS in drinking water for 91 consecutive days. Serum was collected for analysis of total and free thyroxine (T4), total triiodothyronine (T3), and thyrotrophin (TSH). Thyroid and liver were removed for the measurement of endpoints closely related to thyroid hormone biosynthesis and metabolism following PFOS exposure. Determined endpoints were the messenger RNA (mRNA) levels for two isoforms of uridine diphosphoglucuronosyl transferases (UGT1A6 and UGT1A1) and type 1 deiodinase (DIO1) in liver, sodium iodide symporter (NIS), TSH receptor (TSHR), and DIO1 in thyroid as well as the activity of thyroid peroxidase (TPO). Serum total T4 level decreased significantly at all applied dosages, whereas total T3 level increased markedly only at 1.7 mg/L of PFOS. No statistically significant toxic effects of PFOS on serum TSH were observed. Hepatic UGT1A1, but not UGT1A6, mRNA was up-regulated at 5.0 and 15.0 mg/L of PFOS. Treatment with PFOS lowered hepatic DIO1 mRNA at 15.0 mg/L but increased thyroidal DIO1 mRNA dose dependently. The activity of TPO, NIS, and TSHR mRNA in thyroid were unaffected by PFOS treatment. These results indicate that increased hepatic T4 glucuronidation via UGT1A1 and increased thyroidal conversion of T4 to T3 via DIO1 were responsible in part for PFOS-induced hypothyroxinemia in rats.
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