Evidence for persistent organochlorine pollutants in the human adrenal cortex

Enza Fommei, Roberta Turci, Andrea Ripoli, Silvana Balzan, Fabrizio Bianchi, Luca Morelli, Alessio Coi

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Environmental pollutants may act as endocrine disruptors in animals. Organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) enter the food chain and may accumulate in the fatty animal tissues, including adrenals. To our knowledge, no previous study has investigated their presence in the human normal adrenal (NA) cortex and aldosterone-producing adenomas (APA). Surgical fragments of APA from 11 patients and NA from 8 kidney donors were analyzed for 16 PCBs congeners and 10 OCPs. A Matrix Solid-Phase Dispersion (MSPD) method for simultaneous determination of the target compounds in cortex homogenates was developed. A gas-chromatography triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (Triple Quad GC-MS) system was used for the analysis. Data were analyzed using Random Forest and Wilcoxon's rank-sum test. OCPs and PCBs were found in specimens from both types. A subset of pollutants characterized APA more than NA. Higher concentrations (μg g(-1) ) in APA were observed for α-, β-, and γ- Hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) (1.48 ± 3.32 vs. 0.17 ± 0.19, P = 0.028; 2.81 ± 2.10 vs. 0.96 ± 0.98, P = 0.011; 2.16 ± 4.85 vs. 0.17 ± 0.26, P = 0.004, respectively), as well as for Hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and for PCBs 28, 52 and 101 (3.41 ± 3.11 vs. 0.97 ± 1.06, P = 0.021; 2.34 ± 4.68 vs. 0.25 ± 0.22, P = 0.039; 0.58 ± 1.19 vs. 0.06 ± 0.02, P = 0.002; 0.26 ± 0.43 vs. 0.05 ± 0.00, P = 0.001, respectively). Environmental organochlorine pollutants were shown to be present in the human normal and abnormal adrenal cortex, deserving future investigation on their possible role as adrenal endocrine disruptors in human disease. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1091-1097
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Toxicology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • Journal Article


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