Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), perceived stress, and depressive symptoms in a prospective cohort study of black women

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The Science of the total environment


BACKGROUND: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are endocrine-disrupting chemicals with neurotoxic properties. PFAS have been associated with depressive symptoms among women in some studies, but little research has evaluated the effects of PFAS mixtures. Further, no study has investigated interactions of PFAS-depression associations by perceived stress, which has been shown to modify the effects of PFAS on other health outcomes.

OBJECTIVE: In a prospective cohort study of reproductive-aged Black women, we investigated associations between PFAS and depressive symptoms and the extent to which perceived stress modified these associations.

METHODS: We analyzed data from 1499 participants (23-35 years) in the Study of Environment, Lifestyle, and Fibroids. We quantified concentrations of nine PFAS in baseline plasma samples using online solid-phase extraction-liquid chromatography-isotope dilution tandem mass spectrometry. Participants reported perceived stress via the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-4; range = 0-16) at baseline and depressive symptoms via the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CESD; range = 0-44) at the 20-month follow-up visit. We used Bayesian Kernel Machine Regression to estimate associations between PFAS concentrations, individually and as a mixture, and depressive symptoms, and to assess effect modification by PSS-4 scores, adjusting for confounders.

RESULTS: Baseline perfluorodecanoic acid concentrations were associated with greater depressive symptoms at the 20-month follow-up, but associations for other PFAS were null. The PFAS were not associated with depressive symptoms when evaluated as a mixture. The association between the 90th percentile (vs. 50th percentile) of the PFAS mixture with CES-D scores was null at the 10th (β = 0.03; 95 % CrI = 0.20, 0.25), 50th (β = 0.02; 95 % CrI = -0.16, 0.19), and 90th (β = 0.01; 95 % CrI = 0.18, 0.20) percentiles of PSS-4 scores, suggesting perceived stress did not modify the PFAS mixture.

CONCLUSION: In this prospective cohort study, PFAS concentrations-assessed individually or as a mixture-were not appreciably associated with depressive symptoms, and there was no evidence of effect modification by perceived stress.

Medical Subject Headings

Humans; Female; Fluorocarbons; Adult; Prospective Studies; Depression; Environmental Pollutants; Stress, Psychological; Young Adult; Environmental Exposure; Black or African American; Endocrine Disruptors

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