Yeungnam Univ J Med.  2018 Dec;35(2):156-164. 10.12701/yujm.2018.35.2.156.

Potential health effects of emerging environmental contaminants perfluoroalkyl compounds

  • 1Department of Pharmacology, Catholic University of Daegu School of Medicine, Daegu, Korea.


Environmental contaminants are one of the important causal factors for development of various human diseases. In particular, the perinatal period is highly vulnerable to environmental toxicants and resultant dysregulation of fetal development can cause detrimental health outcomes potentially affecting life-long health. Perfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs), emerging environmental pollutants, are man-made organic molecules, which are widely used in diverse industries and consumer products. PFCs are non-degradable and bioaccumulate in the environment. Importantly, PFCs can be found in cord blood and breast milk as well as in the general population. Due to their physicochemical properties and potential toxicity, many studies have evaluated the health effects of PFCs. This review summarizes the epidemiological and experimental studies addressing the association of PFCs with neurotoxicity and immunotoxicity. While the relationships between PFC levels and changes in neural and immune health are not yet conclusive, accumulative studies provide evidence for positive associations between PFC levels and the incidence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and reduced immune response to vaccination both in children and adults. In conclusion, PFCs have the potential to affect human health linked with neurological disorders and immunosuppressive responses. However, our understanding of the molecular mechanism of the effects of PFCs on human health is still in its infancy. Therefore, along with efforts to develop methods to reduce exposure to PFCs, studies on the mode of action of these chemicals are required in the near future.


Environmental pollutants; Health outcomes; Immunotoxicity; Neurotoxicity; Perfluoroalkyl compounds
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