Exposure to environmental toxicants namely polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) is correlated with multiple health disorders including liver and cardiovascular diseases. The liver is important for both xenobiotic and endobiotic metabolism. However, the responses of an injured liver to subsequent environmental insults has not been investigated. The current study aims to evaluate the role of a compromised liver in PCB-induced toxicity and define the implications on overall body homeostasis. Male C57Bl/6 mice were fed either an amino acid control diet (CD) or a methionine-choline deficient diet (MCD) during the 12-week study. Mice were subsequently exposed to either PCB126 (4.9 mg/kg) or the PCB mixture, Arcolor1260 (20 mg/kg) and analyzed for inflammatory, calorimetry and metabolic parameters. Consistent with the literature, MCD diet-fed mice demonstrated steatosis, indicative of a compromised liver. Mice fed the MCD-diet and subsequently exposed to PCB126 showed observable wasting syndrome leading to mortality. PCB126 and Aroclor1260 exposure worsened hepatic fibrosis exhibited by the MCD groups. Interestingly, PCB126 but not Aroclor1260 induced steatosis and inflammation in CD-fed mice. Mice with liver injury and subsequently exposed to PCBs also manifested metabolic disturbances due to alterations in hepatic gene expression. Furthermore, PCB exposure in MCD-fed mice led to extra-hepatic toxicity such as upregulated circulating inflammatory biomarkers, implicating endothelial cell dysfunction. Taken together, these results indicate that environmental pollution can exacerbate toxicity caused by diet-induced liver injury which may be partially due to dysfunctional energy homeostasis. This is relevant to PCB-exposed human cohorts who suffer from alcohol or diet-induced fatty liver diseases.

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Published in Toxicology, v. 380, p. 11-22.

© 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

This manuscript version is made available under the CC‐BY‐NC‐ND 4.0 license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

The document available for download is the author's post-peer-review final draft of the article.

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Funding Information 

The current study is supported by the NIEHS/NIH grant P42ES007380 and NIGMS/NIH grant 8 P20 GM103527-06.

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