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Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) inhibit cytochrome P450 CYP3A7 through direct coordination to the heme iron and water displacement

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a chemical class of highly stable, fluorinated compounds popular for use in a variety of consumer products. PFAS environmental persistence in drinking water contributes to acute exposure in humans and subsequent bioaccumulation of the compounds in the liver and lung tissue. Prenatal PFAS exposure has been associated with lowered birth weight, premature birth, and developmental defects including cranio-facial abnormalities. The cytochrome P450 enzyme CYP3A7 is responsible for facilitating a variety of reactions essential for proper fetal development in humans. In addition to drug metabolism, CYP3A7 is responsible for metabolizing endogenous ligands in the developing human liver, including the steroid precursor dehydroepiandrosterone 3-sulfate (DHEA-S), essential for estriol synthesis during pregnancy, along with the morphogen all-trans-retinoic acid (atRA). Interference with estriol synthesis during pregnancy, as well as atRA clearance, is known to result in similar effects associated with prenatal PFAS exposure including lowered birth weight, premature birth, and developmental defects. We hypothesized that PFAS compounds bind to the CYP3A7 enzyme resulting in its inhibition. We implemented a series of binding studies using spectral characterization of six PFAS compounds (PFOA, PFOS, GenX, PFNA, PFNS, and PFHxS), and evaluated their interactions with recombinant CYP3A7. In addition, we screened PFAS for their ability to inhibit CYP3A7 oxidative activity using dibenzylfluorescein, a fluorescent probe, and DHEA-S, an endogenous substrate of CYP3A7. Our data demonstrate that of the six PFAS tested, PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, and PFHxS bind to and inhibit CYP3A7.

J Inorg Biochem. 2023 Jan 4;240:112120. doi: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2023.112120. Online ahead of print.

PMID:36638633 | DOI:10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2023.112120