Perfluorooctanoic acid exposure induces endoplasmic reticulum stress in the liver and its effects are ameliorated by 4-phenylbutyrate
Perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) are a group of widely used anthropogenic compounds. As one of the most dominant PFAAs, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) has been suggested to induce hepatotoxicity and several other toxicological effects. However, details on the mechanisms for PFOA-induced hepatotoxicity still need to be elucidated. In this study, we observed the occurrence of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in mouse livers and HepG2 cells after PFOA exposure using several familiar markers for the unfolded protein response (UPR). ER stress in HepG2 cells after PFOA exposure was not significantly influenced by autophagy inhibition or stimulation. The antioxidant defense system was significantly disturbed in mouse livers after PFOA exposure, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) were increased in cells exposed to PFOA for 24 h. However, N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) pretreatment did not satisfactorily alleviate the UPR in cells exposed to PFOA even though the increase of ROS was less evident. Furthermore, exposure of HepG2 cells to PFOA in the presence of sodium 4-phenylbutyrate (4-PBA), a chemical chaperone and ER stress inhibitor, suggested that 4-PBA alleviated the UPR and autophagosome accumulation induced by PFOA in cells. In addition, several toxicological effects attributed to PFOA exposure, including cell cycle arrest, proteolytic activity impairment, and neutral lipid accumulation, were also improved by 4-PBA cotreatment in cells. In vivo study demonstrated that PFOA-induced lipid metabolism perturbation and liver injury were partially ameliorated by 4-PBA in mice after 28 days of exposure. These findings demonstrated that PFOA-induced ER stress leading to UPR might play an important role in PFOA-induced hepatotoxic effects, and chemical chaperone 4-PBA could ameliorate the effects. © 2015 Published by Elsevier Inc.