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Background: Exposure to perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) or to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) increases mouse and human peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor alpha (PPARα) subtype activity, which influences lipid metabolism. Because cholesterol is the substrate from which testosterone is synthesized, exposure to these substances has the potential to alter testosterone concentrations.

Objectives: We explored associations of total testosterone and sex hormone–binding globulin (SHBG) concentrations at age 15 years with prenatal exposures to PFOS, PFOA, perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), and perfluoronanoic acid (PFNA) in females.

Methods: Prenatal concentrations of the perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) were measured in serum collected from pregnant mothers at enrollment (1991–1992) in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). The median gestational age when the maternal blood sample was obtained was 16 weeks (interquartile range, 11–28 weeks). Total testosterone and SHBG concentrations were measured in serum obtained from their daughters at 15 years of age. Associations between prenatal PFAAs concentrations and reproductive outcomes were estimated using linear regression models (n = 72).

Results: Adjusted total testosterone concentrations were on average 0.18-nmol/L (95% CI: 0.01, 0.35) higher in daughters with prenatal PFOS in the upper concentration tertile compared with daughters with prenatal PFOS in the lower tertile. Adjusted total testosterone concentrations were also higher in daughters with prenatal concentrations of PFOA (β = 0.24; 95% CI: 0.05, 0.43) and PFHxS (β = 0.18; 95% CI: 0.00, 0.35) in the upper tertile compared with daughters with concentrations in the lower tertile. We did not find evidence of associations between PFNA and total testosterone or between any of the PFAAs and SHBG.

Conclusions: Our findings were based on a small study sample and should be interpreted with caution. However, they suggest that prenatal exposure to some PFAAs may alter testosterone concentrations in females.

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As a publication of the U.S. Federal Government, all original content is without copyright, and resides in the public domain. Article first appeared in Environmental Health Perspectives.