EU Science Hub

From the exposome to mechanistic understanding of chemical-induced adverse effects

The exposome encompasses an individual's exposure to exogenous chemicals, as well as endogenous chemicals that are produced or altered in response to external stressors. While the exposome concept has been established for human health, its principles can be extended to include broader ecological issues. The assessment of exposure is tightly interlinked with hazard assessment. Here, we explore if mechanistic understanding of the causal links between exposure and adverse effects on human health and the environment can be improved by integrating the exposome approach with the adverse outcome pathway (AOP) concept that structures and organizes the sequence of biological events from an initial molecular interaction of a chemical with a biological target to an adverse outcome. Complementing exposome research with the AOP concept may facilitate a mechanistic understanding of stress-induced adverse effects, examine the relative contributions from various components of the exposome, determine the primary risk drivers in complex mixtures, and promote an integrative assessment of chemical risks for both human and environmental health.