Exposure to perfluorinated compounds: in vitro study on thyroid cells

Francesca Coperchini, Patrizia Pignatti, Serena Lacerenza, Sara Negri, Riccardo Sideri, Claudia Testoni, Luca de Martinis, Danilo Cottica, Flavia Magri, Marcello Imbriani, Mario Rotondi, Luca Chiovato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are widely used perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). Previous studies detected PFOA and PFOS in human tissues including the thyroid gland. There are no studies on the in vitro effects of PFOA and PFOS on thyroid cells. Our study was aimed at evaluating the effect of the in vitro exposure to PFOA and PFOS on thyroid cell proliferation and viability. These objectives were investigated using Fisher rat thyroid line-5 (FRTL-5) cells. FRTL-5 cells cultured in the presence of PFOA and PFOS at concentrations up to 104 nM do not display changes in their viability and proliferation rate, while at a concentration of 105 nM of either PFCs, a significant inhibition of cell proliferation, mainly due to increased cell death, was found. PFOA and PFOS were detected in FRTL-5 cell pellets after 72 h of incubation with PFCs but not in control cultures. When FRTL-5 were incubated with PFCs then washed in PBS and re-cultured for 72 h without PFCs in the medium, no detectable concentrations of PFOA and PFOS were measured in the cell pellet. This indicates that PFOA and PFOS enter thyroid cells by a gradient-based passive diffusion mechanism. Future studies are required to evaluate the potential toxic effect resulting from prolonged in vivo exposure to even lower concentrations of PFCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2287-2294
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Cytotoxicity
  • Fisher rat thyroid line-5 (FRTL-5)
  • Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)
  • Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)
  • Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Pollution
  • Medicine(all)


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