Tissue distribution, metabolism, and elimination of perfluorooctanoic acid in male and female rats

John P.Vanden Heuvel, Benedict I. Kuslikis, Marc J. Van Rafelghem, Richard E. Peterson

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245 Scopus citations


The elimination, tissue distribution, and metabolism of [1‐14C]perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was examined in male and female rats for 28 days after a single ip dose (9.4 μmol/kg, 4 mg/kg). A sex difference in urinary elimination of PFOA‐derived 14C was observed. Female rats eliminated PFOA‐derived radioactivity rapidly in the urine with 91% of the dose being excreted in the first 24 hr. In the same period, male rats eliminated only 6% of the administered 14C in the urine. The sex‐related difference in urinary elimination resulted in the observed difference in the whole‐body elimination half‐life (t1/2) of PFOA in males (t1/2 = 15 days) and females (t1/2 < 1 day). Analysis of PFOA‐derived 14C in tissues showed that the liver and plasma of male rats and the liver, plasma, and kidney of female rats were the primary tissues of distribution. The relatively high concentration of PFOA in the male liver was further examined using an in situ nonrecirculating liver perfusion technique. It was shown that 11% of the PFOA infused was extracted by the liver in a single pass. The ability of the liver to eliminate PFOA into bile was examined in rats whose renal pedicles were ligated to alleviate sex differences in the urinary excretion of PFOA. In a 6‐hr period following IP administration of PFOA, there was no apparent difference in biliary excretion, where both males and females eliminated less than 1% of the PFOA dose via this route. We hypothesized that the sex difference in the persistence of PFOA was due to a more rapid formation of a PFOA‐containing lipid (i.e., a PFOA‐containing mono‐, di‐, or triacylglycerol, cholesteryl ester, methyl ester, or phospholipid) in the male rat. Also, the increased urinary elimination of PFOA in females may have been due to increased metabolism to a PFOA‐glucuronide or sulfate ester. However, no evidence that PFOA is conjugated to form a persistent hybrid lipid was obtained, nor were polar metabolites of PFOA in urine or bile detected. In addition, daily urinary excretion of fluoride in male and female rats before or after PFOA treatment were similar, suggesting that the parent compound is not defluorinated. Thus, the more rapid elimination of PFOA from female rats is not due to formation of a PFOA metabolite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-92
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biochemical Toxicology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology


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