Humans are exposed daily to complex mixtures of chemical pollutants through their environment and diet, some of which have the potential to disrupt the bodies’ natural endocrine functions and contribute to reproductive diseases like endometriosis. Increasing epidemiological and experimental evidence supports the association between endometriosis and certain persistent organic pollutants (POPs) like dioxins; however, little is known about the underlying linking mechanisms. The main objective of this study is to proof the methodological applicability and discovery potential of integrating ultra-trace mass spectrometry (MS) profiling of POP biomarkers and endogenous biomarker profiling (MS metabolomics and cytokines) in a case-control study for the etiological research of endometriosis. The approach is applied in a pilot clinical-based study conducted in France where women with and without surgically confirmed endometriosis were recruited. Serum samples were analysed with high-resolution MS for about 30 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorinated pesticides and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). About 600 serum metabolites and lipids were identified with targeted metabolomics using tandem MS with the Biocrates MxP® Quant 500 Kit. A panel of 4 pro-inflammatory cytokines were analysed using ELISA-based 4-PLEX analyser. Statistical analysis included a battery of variable selection approaches, multivariate logistic regression for single-chemical associations, Bayesian kernel machine regressions (BKMR) to identify mixture effects of POPs and a multiblock approach to identify shared biomarker signatures among high risk clusters. The results showed the positive associations between some POPs and endometriosis risk, including the pesticide trans-nonachlor Odds Ratio (95% Confidence Interval) 3.38 (2.06-5.98), p < 0.0001 and PCB 114 OR (95% CI) 1.83 (1.17-2.93), p = 0.009. The BKMR approach showed a tendency of a positive cumulative effect of the mixture, however trans-nonachlor exhibited significant associations within the mixture and interacted with other PCBs, strengthening the effects at highest concentrations. Finally, the multiblock analysis, relating the various blocks of data, revealed a latent cluster of women with higher risk of endometrioma presenting higher concentrations of trans-nonachlor, PCB 114 and dioxin-like toxic equivalents from PCBs, together with an increased inflammatory profile (i.e. elevated interleukin-8 and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1). It was also highlighted a specific metabolic pattern characterized by dysregulation of bile acid homeostasis and lipase activity. Further research will be required with larger sample size to confirm these findings and gain insight on the underlying mechanisms between POPs and endometriosis.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.