Systems toxicology: from basic research to risk assessment


Authored by  SJ Sturla*, AR Boobis*, RE FitzGerald*, J Hoeng, RJ Kavlock*, K Schirmer*, M Whelan*, MF Wilks*, M Peitsch

Published in Chemical Research in Toxicology     
* This author is not affiliated with PMI.

Abstract:

Systems Toxicology is the integration of classical toxicology with quantitative analysis of large networks of molecular and functional changes occurring across multiple levels of biological organization. Society demands increasingly close scrutiny of the potential health risks associated with exposure to chemicals present in our everyday life, leading to an increasing need for more predictive and accurate risk-assessment approaches. Developing such approaches requires a detailed mechanistic understanding of the ways in which xenobiotic substances perturb biological systems and lead to adverse outcomes. Thus, Systems Toxicology approaches offer modern strategies for gaining such mechanistic knowledge by combining advanced analytical and computational tools. Furthermore, Systems Toxicology is a means for the identification and application of biomarkers for improved safety assessments. In Systems Toxicology, quantitative systems-wide molecular changes in the context of an exposure are measured, and a causal chain of molecular events linking exposures with adverse outcomes (i.e., functional and apical end points) is deciphered. Mathematical models are then built to describe these processes in a quantitative manner. The integrated data analysis leads to the identification of how biological networks are perturbed by the exposure and enables the development of predictive mathematical models of toxicological processes. This perspective integrates current knowledge regarding bioanalytical approaches, computational analysis, and the potential for improved risk assessment.