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Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Effects of PCB Exposure on Human Stress Hormones in the German HELPcB Surveillance Program

1
Institute for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstraße 30, 52074 Aachen, North Rhine Westphalia, Germany
2
Health Authority of the City and Area of Aachen, Trierer Straße 1, 52070 Aachen, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These Authors contributed equally.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(13), 4708; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17134708
Received: 27 May 2020 / Revised: 22 June 2020 / Accepted: 26 June 2020 / Published: 30 June 2020
Multiple pathological associations are attributed to PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). Research shows a positive association of PCBs with dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) concentration but the results on the stress hormone cortisol have been inconsistent so far. This study is the first to examine not only the cross-sectional but also the longitudinal effects of PCB exposure on the stress hormones DHEAS and cortisol. Over a period of three years, 112 former employees occupationally exposed to PCBs were tested for their body burden with different types of PCBs (lower and higher chlorinated, dioxin-like and hydroxylated) and for their stress hormone concentration. Highly exposed employees showed a significantly higher risk for higher DHEAS values. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed a positive relationship between the exposure to lower chlorinated PCBs and DHEAS. Mixed models also revealed a significantly positive correlation between lower chlorinated PCBs with DHEAS when controlled for a cross-section. However, an effect for cortisol was not found. These results suggest a causal pathophysiological relationship between PCB exposure and DHEAS concentration, but not with cortisol. The health consequences of high DHEAS concentrations are discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: polychlorinated biphenyls; stress hormones; cortisol; DHEAS; adults; HELPcB polychlorinated biphenyls; stress hormones; cortisol; DHEAS; adults; HELPcB
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MDPI and ACS Style

Gaum, P.M.; Vida, V.S.; Schettgen, T.; Esser, A.; Kraus, T.; Gube, M.; Lang, J. Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Effects of PCB Exposure on Human Stress Hormones in the German HELPcB Surveillance Program. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 4708.

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