Perfluoroalkyl substance serum concentrations and immune response to FluMist vaccination among healthy adults

Cheryl R. Stein, Yongchao Ge, Mary S. Wolff, Xiaoyun Ye, Antonia M. Calafat, Thomas Kraus, Thomas M. Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were shown to be immunotoxic in laboratory animals. There is some epidemiological evidence that PFAS exposure is inversely associated with vaccine-induced antibody concentration. We examined immune response to vaccination with FluMist intranasal live attenuated influenza vaccine in relation to four PFAS (perfluorooctanoate, perfluorononanoate, perfluorooctane sulfonate, perfluorohexane sulfonate) serum concentrations among 78 healthy adults vaccinated during the 2010-2011 influenza season. We measured anti-A H1N1 antibody response and cytokine and chemokine concentrations in serum pre-vaccination, 3 days post-vaccination, and 30 days post-vaccination. We measured cytokine, chemokine, and mucosal IgA concentration in nasal secretions 3 days post-vaccination and 30 days post-vaccination. Adults with higher PFAS concentrations were more likely to seroconvert after FluMist vaccination as compared to adults with lower PFAS concentrations. The associations, however, were imprecise and few participants seroconverted as measured either by hemagglutination inhibition (9%) or immunohistochemical staining (25%). We observed no readily discernable or consistent pattern between PFAS concentration and baseline cytokine, chemokine, or mucosal IgA concentration, or between PFAS concentration and change in these immune markers between baseline and FluMist-response states. The results of this study do not support a reduced immune response to FluMist vaccination among healthy adults in relation to serum PFAS concentration. Given the study's many limitations, however, it does not rule out impaired vaccine response to other vaccines or vaccine components in either children or adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-178
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Adult
  • Epidemiology
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Influenza vaccines
  • Seroconversion


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