Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been shown to influence endogenous hormones levels in animal models, but little is known about the effects of their mixtures. For hormone measurements, hair analysis is a promising approach to provide information on long-term status of hormones. Herein we used hair analysis to assess the combined effects of 13 PAHs on steroid and thyroid hormones levels in a rat model. The PAH mixture was administered orally three times per week to female rats at doses of 0, 10, 20, 40, 80, 200, 400 and 800 μg/kg of body weight for each compound over a 90-day exposure period. Fourteen out of 36 analyzed hormones were detected in rat hair, including pregnenolone (P5), 17α-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP4), corticosterone (CORT), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), androstenedione (AD), 3,3′-diiodo-L-thyronine (T2), 3,3′,5-triiodo-L-thyronine (T3), and 3,5,3′,5′-triiodo-L-thyronine (T4). The PAH mixture significantly elevated P5 and DHEA levels at the doses of 200 and 400 μg/kg but reduced T2 and T3 levels at the highest dose as compared to the control. While P5, DHEA, 17-OHP4 and AD concentrations exhibited inverted U-shaped dose responses, T2, T3 and T4 concentrations exhibited inverse linear dose responses, which are further confirmed by their relationships with hair hydroxylated PAHs (OH-PAHs) concentrations. Likewise, there were significant nonmonotonic relationships of hormone molar ratios (e.g., AD/17-OHP4 and DHEA/CORT ratios) with exposure intensity and OH-PAHs. Overall, our results demonstrate the capability of PAH mixtures to interfere with steroid and thyroid hormones in female rats.
- Female rats
- Hair analysis
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
- Steroid hormones
- Thyroid hormones