Use of molecular data in human and ecological health risk assessments of industrial chemicals and agrochemicals has been anticipated by the scientific community for many years; however, these data are rarely used for risk assessment. Here, a logic framework is proposed to explore the feasibility and future development of transcriptomic methods to refine and replace the current apical endpoint-based regulatory toxicity testing paradigm. Four foundational principles are outlined and discussed that would need to be accepted by stakeholders prior to this transformative vision being realized. Well-supported by current knowledge, the first principal is that transcriptomics is a reliable tool for detecting alterations in gene expression that result from endogenous or exogenous influences on the test organism. The second principle states that alterations in gene expression are indicators of adverse or adaptive biological responses to stressors in an organism. Principle three is that transcriptomics can be employed to establish a benchmark dose-based point of departure (POD) from short-term, in vivo studies at a dose level below which a concerted molecular change (CMC) is not expected. Finally, principle four states that the use of a transcriptomic POD (set at the CMC dose level) will support a human health-protective risk assessment. If all four principles are substantiated, this vision is expected to transform aspects of the industrial chemical and agrochemical risk assessment process that are focused on establishing safe exposure levels for mammals across numerous toxicological contexts resulting in a significant reduction in animal use while providing equal or greater protection of human health. Importantly, these principals and approach are also generally applicable for ecological safety assessment.
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A Transformative Vision for an Omics-Based Regulatory Chemical Testing Paradigm. Johnson KJ, Auerbach SS, Stevens T, Barton-Maclaren TS, Costa E, Currie RA, Dalmas Wilk D, Haq S, Rager JE, Reardon AJF, Wehmas L, Williams A, O’Brien J, Yauk C, LaRocca JL, Pettit S. Toxicological Sciences. 27 September 2022. https://doi.org/10.1093/toxsci/kfac097