Genomic profiling reveals an alternate mechanism for hepatic tumor promotion by perfluorooctanoic acid in rainbor trout

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Background: Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a potent hepatocarcinogen and peroxisome proliferator (PP) in rodents. Humans are not susceptible to peroxisome proliferation and are considered refractory to carcinogenesis by PPs. Previous studies with rainbow trout indicate they are also insensitive to peroxisome proliferation by the PP dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), but are still susceptible to enhanced hepatocarcinogenesis after chronic exposure. Objectives: In this study, we used trout as a unique in vivo tumor model to study the potential for PFOA carcinogenesis in the absence of peroxisome proliferation compared with the structurally diverse PPs clofibrate (CLOF) and DHEA. Mechanisms of carcinogenesis were identified from hepatic gene expression profiles phenotypically anchored to tumor outcome. Methods: We fed aflatoxin B 1 or sham-initiated animals 200-1,800 ppm PFOA in the diet for 30 weeks for tumor analysis. We subsequently examined gene expression by cDNA array in animals fed PFOA, DHEA, CLOF, or 5 ppm 17β-estradiol (E 2 , a known tumor promoter) in the diet for 14 days. Results: PFOA (1,800 ppm or 50 mg/kg/day) and DHEA treatments resulted in enhanced liver tumor incidence and multiplicity (p < 0.0001), whereas CLOF showed no effect. Carcinogenesis was independent of peroxisome proliferation, measured by lack of peroxisomal β-oxidation and catalase activity. Alternately, both tumor promoters, PFOA and DHEA, resulted in estrogenic gene signatures with strong correlation to E 2 by Pearson correlation (R = 0.81 and 0.78, respectively), whereas CLOF regulated no genes in common with E 2 . Conclusions: These data suggest that the tumor-promoting activities of PFOA in trout are due to novel mechanisms involving estrogenic signaling and are independent of peroxisome proliferation.




Tilton, S. C., Orner, G. A., Benninghoff, A. D., Carpenter, H. M., Hendricks, J. D., Pereira, C. B., & Williams, D. E. (2008). Genomic profiling reveals an alternate mechanism for hepatic tumor promotion by perfluorooctanoic acid in rainbor trout. Environmental Health Perspectives, 116(8), 1047–1055.

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