Effects of prenatal perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) exposure on lung maturation in the perinatal rat

R. C. Grasty, J. A. Bjork, Kendall B Wallace, C. S. Lau, John M. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), found widely in wildlife and humans, is environmentally and metabolically stable. Environmental PFOS may be from its use as a surfactant, hydrolysis of perfluorooctanesulfonyl fluoride, and degradation of N-alkyl-perfluorooctanesulfonamide compounds formerly used in numerous applications. Prenatal exposure to PFOS in rodents causes neonatal mortality; treatment on gestation days (GD) 19-20 is sufficient to induce neonatal death in rats. Affected pups are born alive but present with labored breathing. Their lungs are pale and often do not expand fully on perfusion. METHODS: Pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats received 0, 25, or 50 mg/kg/day PFOS/K+ orally on GD 19-20. Lungs from GD 21 fetuses and neonates were prepared for histology and morphometry Rescue experiments included co-administration of dexamethasone or retinyl palmitate with PFOS. Pulmonary surfactant was investigated with mass spectrometry in GD 21 amniotic fluid and neonatal lungs. Microarray analysis was carried out on PND 0 lungs. RESULTS: Histologically, alveolar walls were thicker in lungs of PFOS-exposed newborns compared to controls. The ratio of solid tissue:small airway was increased, suggesting immaturity. Rescue studies were ineffective. Phospholipid concentrations and molecular speciation were unaffected by PFOS. No changes in markers of alveolar differentiation were detected by microarray analysis. CONCLUSIONS: Morphometric changes in lungs of PFOS exposed neonates were suggestive of immaturity, but the failure of rescue agents and normal pulmonary surfactant profile indicate that the labored respiration and mortality observed in PFOS-treated neonates was not due to lung immaturity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-416
Number of pages12
JournalBirth Defects Research Part B - Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Lung
  • Neonatal mortality
  • PFOS
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonate
  • Surfactant


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