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Circulating levels of persistent organic pollutants associate in divergent ways to fat mass measured by DXA in humans
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Sciences, Occupational and Environmental Medicine. (Eva Vingård)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Sciences, Internal Medicine.
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2011 (English)In: Chemosphere, ISSN 0045-6535, E-ISSN 1879-1298, Vol. 85, no 3, 335-343 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


Environmental contaminants have recently been implicated in the pathogenesis of obesity.


To explore relations between persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and fat mass independently of body stature, using a cross-sectional design.


In the Prospective Study of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS), fat mass was determined in 70-year-old subjects (n=890) by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). The plasma levels of 21 POPs (including 16 PCB congeners, 3 OC pesticides, 1 BDE47, and 1 dioxin) were measured by high resolution chromatography coupled with high resolution mass spectrometry (HRGC/HRMS).


Lipid-standardized plasma concentrations of octachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (OCDD), the PCBs 74, 99, 105 and 118, and the pesticides HCB, TNK, and DDE were all positively related to fat mass (p=0.03-0.0001). Subjects in the fifth quintile for PCB 105 showed a mean fat mass that was 4.8kg more than subjects in the first quintile. On the other hand, the PCBs 156, 157, 169, 170, 180, 189, 194, 206, and 209 were negatively related to fat mass (p=0.0001). For PCB 194, subjects in the fifth quintile showed a mean fat mass that was 10.8kg less than subjects in the first quintile. Following adjustment for smoking, physical activity, education level, height, lean mass, and gender, these results remained significant (p=0.01-0.0001) except for the PCBs 74 and 99. For some PCBs, the associations vs. fat mass were more pronounced in women than in men.


Plasma concentrations of some pesticides are positively related to fat mass, while divergent associations are seen for the PCBs. These results implicate a complex role of POPs in obesity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 85, no 3, 335-343 p.
Keyword [en]
DXA, Dioxin, Fat mass, Obesity, Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), Pesticides
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-161503DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2011.06.095ISI: 000297661900007PubMedID: 21767864OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-161503DiVA: diva2:456377
Available from: 2011-11-14 Created: 2011-11-14 Last updated: 2014-01-23Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Environmental Contaminants and Obesity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Environmental Contaminants and Obesity
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Obesity is a worldwide problem affecting both children and adults. Genetic, physiological, environmental, psychological, social and economic factors interact in varying degrees, influencing body weight and fat distribution and the progress of obesity. Moreover, some anthropogenic chemicals have proven to be endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) with the potential to interfere with different actions of hormones in the body. EDCs may thereby disrupt homeostasis, modifying developmental, behavioral and immune functions in humans and animals, and also promoting adiposity. Because hormones generally act at low concentrations, small changes in the endocrine system may lead to extensive effects. Based on data from experimental and epidemiological studies this thesis elucidates the relationship between a large number of environmental contaminants and obesity.

The experimental studies demonstrated that fructose supplementation in the drinking water resulted in unfavorable metabolic alterations such as a higher liver somatic index (LSI), an increase in plasma triglycerides and increased plasma levels of apo A-I. Fructose in combination with exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) increased liver fat content and plasma levels of apo A-I in juvenile female Fischer 344 rats. The experimental studies also showed that the retro-peritoneal fat, which in rats is a distinct fat depot easy to distinguish and dissect, correlated well with the measurements of total fat mass analyzed with MRI, and could therefore be used as a substitute for total fat mass in rats.

The epidemiological studies showed that circulating levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) were related to fat mass measured by DXA. OCDD, HCB, TNC, DDE and the less chlorinated PCBs were positively related to fat mass, while the more highly chlorinated PCBs showed a negative association. Further, circulating levels of BPA were positively associated with levels of the hormones adiponectin and leptin, but negatively related with ghrelin, hormones which are involved in the regulation of hunger and satiety. However, serum BPA levels were not related to measures of fat mass in the elderly individuals in the PIVUS cohort.

This thesis concludes that environmental contaminants such as BPA and POPs most likely are contributors, along with genetic, social and behavioral factors, to the development of obesity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2013. 67 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 949
Fischer 344, rat, obesity, adipose tissue, persistent organic pollutants, POPs, bisphenol A, BPA, pesticides, dioxin, PCB, DDT, apo A-I, adiponectin, leptin, ghrelin
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-209807 (URN)978-91-554-8798-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-12-13, Frödingsalen, Ulleråkersvägen 40 A, Uppsala, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2013-11-20 Created: 2013-10-26 Last updated: 2014-01-23

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