Superfund Research Program

April 2023

Deng Headshot
The study was led by Pan Deng, Ph.D., a former SRP-funded trainee at the University of Kentucky SRP Center. (Photo courtesy of the University of Kentucky)

A diet rich in fiber may decrease disease risks associated with perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) exposure, according to researchers at the University of Kentucky SRP Center.

“We know that in humans, high fiber diets help protect against numerous diseases, such as cardiometabolic diseases, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and so forth,” said project leader Bernhard Hennig, Ph.D. “Many of these diseases are also linked to exposure to environmental pollutants or environmental insults, so the goal of this study was to see if fiber could also protect against environmentally-induced disease.”

The researchers investigated the role of different fibers on PFOS-induced disruption of liver and gut health in mice. They found that compared with mice that were fed a standard diet, fiber-fed mice were less susceptible to the metabolic outcomes of PFOS exposure, such as liver damage and lipid accumulation. Mice fed soluble fiber also had less PFOS in their plasma and in their livers and had higher expression of genes that protect against PFOS-induced atherosclerosis, or fat buildup in and on artery walls.

According to the authors, this research supports the potential of enriching diets with soluble fiber as a way to reduce disease risk in PFOS-exposed populations.

To learn more, see the NIEHS Environmental Factor newsletter.