Organohalogenated Contaminants in Domestic Cats’ Plasma in Relation to Spontaneous Acromegaly and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Clue for Endocrine Disruption in Humans?

Dirtu A.C., Niessen S.J., Jorens P.G., et al.

Environment international, 2013. 57-58: p.60-7.


It was recently hypothesized that pets may serve as sentinels to explore human exposure to organohalogenated chemicals (OHCs) via indoor environments and adverse health effects. The current study investigates OHCs contamination in domestic cats suffering from diabetes mellitus (DM), particularly DM induced by acromegaly and a form of DM akin to human type 2 DM (T2DM). Plasma from three groups of domestic cats was analyzed: acromegaly induced DM, T2DM and age matched control cats without DM. Analytes targeted included organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), together with their hydroxylated (HO-) metabolites. Similar PCB profiles were measured in cat plasma compared to humans, while the PBDE profile (dominated by BDE-99 (48%-55%) and BDE-47 (19%-25%)), the PCB and PBDE metabolite profiles were different in cat plasma than found in humans. Significantly higher OHC concentrations were recorded in plasma of acromegalic cats compared to the other two groups. Group differences in the PCBs/HO-PCBs ratios suggest that acromegalic cats have a lower capacity to metabolize persistent OHCs, like PCBs, than diabetic cats or cats without an endocrinopathy. As pituitary tumorigenesis in animals can be induced by estrogens, and PCBs may act as xenoestrogens, further investigation into whether there could be a causative link with the induction of feline acromegaly is warranted. Interestingly, BDE-47/BDE-99 ratios in cats were similar to the ratios in house dust. The results of this study suggest that domestic cats may represent a good model to assess human exposure to chemicals present in indoor dust.