Persistent Organic Pollutants and Concern Over the Link with Insulin Resistance Related Metabolic Diseases

  • Sara MostafalouEmail author
Part of the Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology book series (RECT, volume 238)


Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are mostly halogenated compounds tending to persist in the environment, enter into the food chain, and accumulate in fat mass of mammals due to their high lipophilicity. They include some organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, brominated flame retardants and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Some of these chemicals were widely used in the past so that their residues can be detected in the human body, though their usage has been banned for years. POPs have been shown to perturb the health of biological systems in different ways evidenced by carcinogenicity and disrupting effects on endocrine, immune, and reproductive systems. There are many epidemiologic and experimental studies on the association of exposure to POPs with insulin resistance and related metabolic disorders like obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Inflammation as a known mechanism accompanying insulin resistance has also been shown to arise in insulin target tissues exposed to POPs. This review addresses the breast milk concentration of POPs in different regions of the world, synthesizes the current information on the association of POPs with insulin resistance related metabolic disorders, and discusses the inflammation as an involved mechanism. Considering high prevalence of insulin resistance related metabolic diseases and their relation with POPs, much need is felt regarding international and regional programs to not only limit their production and usage but eliminate these persistent pollutants from the environment.


Persistent organic pollutant Insulin resistance Obesity Diabetes Metabolic syndrome Inflammation 



Aryl hydrocarbon receptor


Brominated flame retardants


Body mass index


Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults






C-reactive protein










Homeostatic model assessment




Interleukin 6


Insulin resistance


Nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells




Organochlorine pesticide


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons


Polybrominated biphenyls


Polybrominated diphenyl ethers


Polychlorinated biphenyls






Perfluorononanoic acid


Prospective Investigation of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors


Persistent organic pollutants






Tumor necrosis factor alpha



Thank to the Research Council of Ardabil University of Medical Sciences.

Conflict of Interests

There is no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of PharmacyArdabil University of Medical SciencesArdabilIran

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