Title: Development and application of the adverse outcome pathway framework for understanding and predicting chronic toxicity: I. Challenges and research needs in ecotoxicology
Citation: CHEMOSPHERE vol. 120 p. 764-777
Publication Year: 2015
JRC N°: JRC91201
ISSN: 0045-6535
URI: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0045653514011448
DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.09.068
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: To elucidate the effects of chemicals on populations of different species in the environment, efficient testing and modeling approaches are needed that consider multiple stressors and allow reliable extrapolation of responses across species. An adverse outcome pathway (AOP) is a concept that provides a framework for organizing knowledge about the progression of events resulting in toxicity across scales of biological organization. In this paper, we focus on exploring how the AOP concept can be used to guide research aimed at improving both our understanding of chronic toxicity, including delayed toxicity as well as epigenetic and transgenerational effects of chemicals, and our ability to predict adverse outcomes. A better understanding of the influence of subtle toxicity effects on individual and population fitness would support a broader integration of sublethal endpoints into risk assessment frameworks. Detailed mechanistic knowledge would facilitate the development of alternative testing methods as well as help prioritize higher tier toxicity testing. We argue that targeted development of AOPs supports both of these aspects by promoting the elucidation of molecular mechanisms and their contribution to relevant toxicity outcomes across biological scales. We further discuss information requirements and challenges in application of AOPs for chemical- and site-specific risk assessment and for extrapolation across species. We provide recommendations for potential extension of the AOP framework to incorporate information on exposure, toxicokinetics and situation-specific ecological contexts, and discuss common interfaces that can be employed to couple AOPs with computational modeling approaches and with evolutionary life history theory. The extended AOP framework can serve as a venue for integration of knowledge derived from various sources, including empirical data as well as molecular, quantitative and evolutionary-based models describing species responses to toxicants. In the future this will allow a more efficient application of AOP knowledge for quantitative chemical- and site-specific risk assessment as well as for extrapolation across species.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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