Decabromobiphenyl, Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers, and Brominated Phenolic Compounds in Serum of Cats Diagnosed with the Endocrine Disease Feline Hyperthyroidism

Norrgran J., Jones B., Lindquist N.G., et al.

Arch Environ Contam Toxicol, 2012. 63(1): p.161-8.


The incidence of cats being diagnosed with feline hyperthyroidism (FH) has increased greatly since it was first described in 1979. The cause of FH has not been established. Hypothetically, there is a link between increasing FH and exposure to brominated flame retardants. Much greater polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) concentrations have been reported in cat serum compared with human serum, likely due to cat licking behaviour. This study aimed to extend the present identification of brominated compounds in cat serum, with a focus on hydroxylated metabolites of PBDE, to improve the understanding of feline metabolism of PBDEs. A pooled serum sample from 30 Swedish pet cats with FH was analysed, and brominated species were identified. The results showed exposure to the discontinued flame retardant decabromobiphenyl (BB-209) and technical penta- and octa-BDEs. Altogether 12 PBDE congeners were identified along with 2′-MeO-BDE68. Furthermore, 2,4-dibromophenol, 2,4,6-, 2,4,5- and 2,3,4-tribromophenol plus 2′-OH-BDE68, 6-OH-BDE47, 5-OH-BDE47, 4′-OH-BDE49 were identified. 2,4,6-tribromophenol and 6-OH-BDE47 were the most prominent species in cat serum. Considering that these are natural products, it can be concluded that metabolism of PBDEs to OH-PBDEs is not a major route of PBDE elimination in cats. It is notable that BB-209, 6-OH-BDE47, and 2,4,6-tribromophenol all suggested that endocrine-disrupting chemicals were present in high concentrations in cat serum.