Thyroid Receptor Antagonism of Chemicals Extracted from Personal Silicone Wristbands within a Papillary Thyroid Cancer Pilot Study
Research suggests that thyroid cancer incidence rates are increasing, and environmental exposures have been postulated to be playing a role. To explore this possibility, we conducted a pilot study to investigate the thyroid disrupting bioactivity of chemical mixtures isolated from personal silicone wristband samplers within a thyroid cancer cohort. Specifically, we evaluated TRβ antagonism of chemical mixtures extracted from wristbands (n = 72) worn by adults in central North Carolina participating in a case-control study on papillary thyroid cancer. Sections of wristbands were solvent-extracted and analyzed via mass spectrometry to quantify a suite of semivolatile chemicals. A second extract from each wristband was used in a bioassay to quantify TRβ antagonism in human embryonic kidney cells (HEK293/17) at concentrations ranging from 0.1 to 10% of the original extract (by volume). Approximately 70% of the sample extracts tested at a 1% extract concentration exhibited significant TRβ antagonism, with a mean of 30% and a range of 0-100%. Inhibited cell viability was noted in >20% of samples that were tested at 5 and 10% concentrations. Antagonism was positively associated with wristband concentrations of several phthalates, organophosphate esters, and brominated flame retardants. These results suggest that personal passive samplers may be useful in evaluating the bioactivities of mixtures that people contact on a daily basis. We also report tentative associations between thyroid receptor antagonism, chemical concentrations, and papillary thyroid cancer case status. Future research utilizing larger sample sizes, prospective data collection, and measurement of serum thyroid hormone levels (which were not possible in this study) should be utilized to more comprehensively evaluate these associations.