The role of adipose tissue analysis on Environmental Pollutants Biomonitoring in women: The European scenario

Sara Sousa, Maria Luz Maia, Cristina Delerue-Matos, Conceição Calhau, Valentina F. Domingues

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Humans are exposed every day to assorted environmental pollutants namely, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), organochlorine pesticides (OCP), brominated flame-retardants (BFR), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), synthetic musks, heavy metals (e.g. cadmium) and plastic additives (e.g. bisphenol A, BPA). Besides environmental persistence, biomagnification and bioaccumulative properties, these pollutants are classified as endocrine disruptors (EDs), metabolic disruptors, neurologic disruptors. These compounds affect the normal function of several mechanisms in the human body being linked to human health issues as cancer development (e.g. breast, uterine and endometrial), miscarriage, birth defects, premature delivery and infertility. In order to prevent future health issue of women and possible progeny, the assessment of EDs accumulated is essential, particularly in adipose tissue. These samples have been referred as the ideal matrix to establish over time accumulation and long-term exposure of persistent and non-persistent lipophilic EDs. However, the invasive sample collection procedure and methodology processing discourages the usage of this matrix for biomonitoring studies. In this review, a Web of Science search without any publishing year restriction on the analysis in adipose tissue of PCB, OCP, BPA, cadmium, BFR and synthetic musks was performed. A total of 313 studies were found, 158 were European studies from which the studies with data on women EDs accumulation were selected for detailed analysis (n = 90). The results were structured and presented in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. The present paper is an overview on the existent EDs analytical methods and levels accumulated in women adipose tissue, with the correspondent health implications across Europe. The limits of detection and quantification were compared and a discussion with results obtained about the presence of ED was performed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number150922
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Bisphenol A
  • Cadmium
  • Organochlorinated and brominated compounds
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon
  • Synthetic musk
  • Women health


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