Cytotoxicity of Environmental Toxins PFOA and Gen X

Lauren Helena Zane, University of California, Berkeley, Carlsbad, United States and Thomas Shultz, Duke Marine Laboratory, Marine Science and Conservation Division, Beaufort, NC, United States
Several PFAS (Poly- and perFluoroAlkyl Substances) compounds, largely used in the production of Teflon and other materials have demonstrated bioaccumulative, environmentally persistent and carcinogenic properties. In the effort to replace these compounds, shorter chain chemicals hypothesized to be less toxic, such as Gen X, have been utilized in Teflon processing. Gen X while still environmentally persistent, does not bioaccumulate like its predecessor PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). Since 2017, concerns over Gen X contamination of the Cape Fear River near Wilmington, North Carolina and the lack of studies on the toxicity of Gen X have driven the need to conduct further studies of the chemical. In this study, NIH3T3 cells were exposed to eight concentrations of PFOA ranging from 0-2.5mM or Gen X ranging from 0-5mM for 24 hours to be analyzed with cell viability assays using cell counts, ATP production, and staining for apoptosis. These assays have demonstrated that Gen X is a less cytotoxic chemical than PFOA.

  • The CellTiter-Glo Luminescent Assay indicated that two time higher concentrations of Gen X were required for cytotoxicity.
  • The Annexin V Staining Assay showed that PFOA had a tenfold higher cytotoxicity than Gen X.