Background: Glyphosate is a widely used herbicide in global agriculture. Glyphosate and its primary environmental degradate, aminomethyl phosphonic acid (AMPA), have been shown to disrupt endocrine function and induce oxidative stress in in vitro and animal studies. To our knowledge, these relationships have not been previously characterized in epidemiological settings. Elevated urinary levels of glyphosate and AMPA may be indicative of health effects caused by previous exposure via multiple mechanisms including oxidative stress.
Methods: Glyphosate and AMPA were measured in 347 urine samples collected between 16 and 20 weeks gestation and 24-28 weeks gestation from pregnant women in the PROTECT birth cohort. Urinary biomarkers of oxidative stress, comprising 8-isoprostane-prostaglandin-F2α (8-iso-PGF2α), its metabolite 2,3-dinor-5,6-dihydro-15-F2 t-isoprostane (8-isoprostane metabolite) and prostaglandin-F2α (PGF2α), were also measured. Linear mixed effect models assessed the association between exposures and oxidative stress adjusting for maternal age, smoking status, alcohol consumption, household income and specific gravity. Potential nonlinear trends were also assessed using tertiles of glyphosate and AMPA exposure levels.
Results: No significant differences in exposure or oxidative stress biomarker concentrations were observed between study visits. An interquartile range (IQR) increase in AMPA was associated with 9.5% (95% CI: 0.5-19.3%) higher 8-iso-PGF2α metabolite concentrations. Significant linear trends were also identified when examining tertiles of exposure variables. Compared to the lowest exposure group, the second and third tertiles of AMPA were significantly associated with 12.8% (0.6-26.5%) and 15.2% (1.8-30.3%) higher 8-isoprostane metabolite, respectively. An IQR increase in glyphosate was suggestively associated with 4.7% (-0.9 to 10.7%) higher 8-iso-PGF2α.
Conclusions: Urinary concentrations of the main environmental degradate of glyphosate, AMPA, were associated with higher levels of certain oxidative stress biomarkers. Associations with glyphosate reflected similar trends, although findings were not as strong. Additional research is required to better characterize the association between glyphosate exposure and biomarkers of oxidative stress, as well as potential downstream health consequences.