Persistent organic pollutants and anti-thyroid peroxidase levels in Akwesasne Mohawk young adults

Lawrence M. Schell, Mia V. Gallo, Julia Ravenscroft, Anthony P. DeCaprio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Persistent organic pollutants, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), and p,p′-dichlorophenyldichloroethylene (DDE), have been found to elicit a broad spectrum of biologic, metabolic, and immunologic responses. The potential of these pollutants to impair immune responses and trigger autoimmune disease is of growing concern, given their structural similarity to thyroid hormones and their potential to modulate the mechanisms and interfere with the binding of these hormones. We examine the relationship of different groupings of PCBs, according to chlorination and structure, and of p,p′-DDE and HCB to anti-thyroid peroxidase antibody, a useful tool in the evaluation of thyroid dysfunction, among 115 young adults of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation. Overall, 18 participants (15.4%) had anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAb) levels above the normal laboratory reference range (23% of females, 9% of males). Among participants who were breast fed (n=47), those with an elevated TPOAb level had significantly higher levels of all PCB groupings, with the exception of levels of non-persistent PCBs which did not differ significantly. Levels of p,p′-DDE were also significantly elevated, while HCB and mirex were not higher among those with elevated TPOAb. Also, after stratifying by breast-feeding status, participants who were breast fed showed significant, positive relationships between TPOAb levels and all PCB groupings, except groups comprised of non-persistent PCBs, and with p,p′-DDE, HCB, and mirex. No effects were evident among non-breast-fed young adults. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the site and mechanism of action of these persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and to establish thresholds for these effects, especially among populations with background levels of toxicant exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-92
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Anti-thyroid peroxidase
  • Native American
  • PCBs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Environmental Science (all)


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