It is well known that perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) preferentially accumulates in the plasma of wildlife and humans. Although earlier studies have suggested that this was due to binding of PFOS to a plasma protein, definite characterization of the protein in in vivo exposure studies was not conducted thus far. In this study, we conducted both in vitro and in vivo experiments to identify PFOS binding protein in the plasma of fish. For the in vivo studies, PFOS was administered intraperitoneally to tiger pufferfish, Takifugu rubripes, and the plasma was separated by ammonium sulfate fractionation. High concentrations of PFOS were found in the 65-70 percent ammonium sulfate fraction (190. ng/mL). After SDS-PAGE and N-terminal amino acid sequence analysis, the PFOS-binding protein was identified as an apolipoprotein A-I, which was confirmed on the basis of a significant correlation to the PFOS concentration in each fraction. The plasma samples fractionated by ammonium sulfate from untreated pufferfish were subjected to PFOS binding assay by the equilibrium dialysis method. The results further confirmed that the 60-65 percent ammonium sulfate fraction showed a high PFOS-binding ratio, similar to that found from in vivo studies. We demonstrated that PFOS is likely bound to an apolipoprotein A-I in the plasma of tiger pufferfish in in vivo and in vitro studies.
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