Lower chlorinated polychlorinated biphenyls (LC-PCBs) and their metabolites make up a class of environmental pollutants implicated in a range of adverse outcomes in humans; however, the metabolism of LC-PCBs in human models has received little attention. Here we characterize the metabolism of PCB 2 (3-chlorobiphenyl), an environmentally relevant LC-PCB congener, in HepG2 cells with in silico prediction and nontarget high-resolution mass spectrometry. Twenty PCB 2 metabolites belonging to 13 metabolite classes, including five dechlorinated metabolite classes, were identified in the cell culture media from HepG2 cells exposed for 24 h to 10 μM or 3.6 nM PCB 2. The PCB 2 metabolite profiles differed from the monochlorinated metabolite profiles identified in samples from an earlier study with PCB 11 (3,3′-dichlorobiphenyl) under identical experimental conditions. A dechlorinated dihydroxylated metabolite was also detected in human liver microsomal incubations with monohydroxylated PCB 2 metabolites but not PCB 2. These findings demonstrate that the metabolism of LC-PCBs in human-relevant models involves the formation of dechlorination products. In addition, untargeted metabolomic analyses revealed an altered bile acid biosynthesis in HepG2 cells. Our results indicate the need to study the disposition and toxicity of complex PCB 2 metabolites, including novel dechlorinated metabolites, in human-relevant models.
ByChun-Yun Zhang, Xueshu Li, Susanne Flor, Patricia Ruiz, Anneli Kruve, Gabriele Ludewig, & Hans-Joachim Lehmler