Environmental Contaminants and Obesity
Abstract: Obesity is a worldwide problem affecting both children and adults. Genetic, physiological, environmental, psychological, social and economic factors interact in varying degrees, influencing body weight and fat distribution and the progress of obesity. Moreover, some anthropogenic chemicals have proven to be endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) with the potential to interfere with different actions of hormones in the body. EDCs may thereby disrupt homeostasis, modifying developmental, behavioral and immune functions in humans and animals, and also promoting adiposity. Because hormones generally act at low concentrations, small changes in the endocrine system may lead to extensive effects. Based on data from experimental and epidemiological studies this thesis elucidates the relationship between a large number of environmental contaminants and obesity.The experimental studies demonstrated that fructose supplementation in the drinking water resulted in unfavorable metabolic alterations such as a higher liver somatic index (LSI), an increase in plasma triglycerides and increased plasma levels of apo A-I. Fructose in combination with exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) increased liver fat content and plasma levels of apo A-I in juvenile female Fischer 344 rats. The experimental studies also showed that the retro-peritoneal fat, which in rats is a distinct fat depot easy to distinguish and dissect, correlated well with the measurements of total fat mass analyzed with MRI, and could therefore be used as a substitute for total fat mass in rats.The epidemiological studies showed that circulating levels of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) were related to fat mass measured by DXA. OCDD, HCB, TNC, DDE and the less chlorinated PCBs were positively related to fat mass, while the more highly chlorinated PCBs showed a negative association. Further, circulating levels of BPA were positively associated with levels of the hormones adiponectin and leptin, but negatively related with ghrelin, hormones which are involved in the regulation of hunger and satiety. However, serum BPA levels were not related to measures of fat mass in the elderly individuals in the PIVUS cohort.This thesis concludes that environmental contaminants such as BPA and POPs most likely are contributors, along with genetic, social and behavioral factors, to the development of obesity.
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