Washington University in St. Louis

The Patti Lab
Metabolomics to elucidate novel biochemical mechanisms of disease
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Biomonitoring in the Era of the Exposome

Dennis KK, Marder E, Balshaw DM, Cui Y, Lynes MA, Patti GJ, Rappaport SM, Shaughnessy DT, Vrijheid M, Barr DB
Biomonitoring in the Era of the Exposome
Environ Health Perspect, 125:502-510, 2016
doi:10.1289/EHP474

Background: The term “exposome” was coined in 2005 to underscore the importance of the environment to human health and to bring research efforts in line with those on the human genome. The ability to characterize environmental exposures through biomonitoring is key to exposome research efforts.

Objectives: Our objectives were to describe why traditional and nontraditional (exposomic) biomonitoring are both critical in studies aiming to capture the exposome and to make recommendations on how to transition exposure research toward exposomic approaches. We describe the biomonitoring needs of exposome research and approaches and recommendations that will help fill the gaps in the current science.

Discussion: Traditional and exposomic biomonitoring approaches have key advantages and disadvantages for assessing exposure. Exposomic approaches differ from traditional biomonitoring methods in that they can include all exposures of potential health significance, whether from endogenous or exogenous sources. Issues of sample availability and quality, identification of unknown analytes, capture of nonpersistent chemicals, integration of methods, and statistical assessment of increasingly complex data sets remain challenges that must continue to be addressed.

Conclusions: To understand the complexity of exposures faced throughout the lifespan, both traditional and nontraditional biomonitoring methods should be used. Through hybrid approaches and the integration of emerging techniques, biomonitoring strategies can be maximized in research to define the exposome

Washington University, Departments of Chemistry, Genetics, and Medicine. Saint Louis, Missouri 63110 USA