Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 18, pp 18866–18875 | Cite as

Maternal exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) causes liver toxicity through PPAR-α pathway and lowered histone acetylation in female offspring mice

  • Danyang Li
  • Linchao Zhang
  • Yan Zhang
  • Shuo Guan
  • Xincheng Gong
  • Xiaodan WangEmail author
Research Article


The study was conducted to investigate the liver toxicity in female offspring mice induced by maternal exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Fifty pregnant Kunming mice were randomly divided into 5 groups with 10 of each, which were treated with 0.2 mL PFOA solution dissolved with deionized water at 0, 1, 2.5, 5, and 10 mg/kg BW, respectively, from the pregnancy day (PND) 0 to day 17. Female offspring mice were sacrificed to collect serum and liver at postpartum day 21. The results showed that PFOA significantly reduced the body weight at weaning and the survival rate of the female offspring mice (P < 0.01) increased the liver index of the pups (P < 0.01). Meanwhile, PFOA also caused hepatic bleeding, local necrosis, and enlargement of hepatocytes and vacuolization. The levels of serum AST, ALT, SOD, and CAT in PFOA treatment group were upregulated significantly (P < 0.01). The expressions of Acot1, Acox1, and Acsl1 genes were increased significantly (P < 0.01). The expression of PPAR-α gene was decreased significantly (P < 0.01). There was no significant difference in the expression of Cpt1a gene among the 5 groups. HAT activity was reduced significantly and HDAC activity was increased significantly. The expression of anti-acetyl-histone H3 and acetyl-histone H4 was reduced significantly. Thus, our findings indicate that exposure to PFOA during pregnancy affects the growth and development of the pups and causes liver damage, disrupting the secretion of enzymes involved in fatty acid oxidation induced by PPAR-α, leading to liver oxidative stress and a decrease in the degree of histone acetylation. Elevated HDAC may aggravate downstream fatty acid metabolism disorders through PPAR-α.


Perfluorooctanoic acid Female offspring mice Liver injury PPAR-α Oxidative stress 



This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31502111) and the Natural Science Foundation of Hebei (No C2016204097).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Danyang Li
    • 1
  • Linchao Zhang
    • 1
  • Yan Zhang
    • 1
  • Shuo Guan
    • 1
  • Xincheng Gong
    • 1
  • Xiaodan Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Traditional Chinese Veterinary MedicineAgricultural University of HebeiBaodingChina

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