Tracey J. Woodruff 1 , Lauren Zeise 2 , Daniel A. Axelrad 3 , Kathryn Z. Guyton 4 , Sarah Janssen 5 , 6 , Mark Miller 2 , 7 , Gregory G. Miller 3 , Jackie M. Schwartz 1 , George Alexeeff 2 , Henry Anderson 8 , Linda Birnbaum 9 , Frederic Bois 10 , Vincent James Cogliano 11 , Kevin Crofton 9 , Susan Y. Euling 4 , Paul M.D. Foster 12 , Dori R. Germolec 12 , Earl Gray 9 , Dale B. Hattis 13 , Amy D. Kyle 14 , Robert W. Luebke 9 , Michael I. Luster 15 , Chris Portier 12 , Deborah C. Rice 16 , Gina Solomon 5 , John Vandenberg 4 , R. Thomas Zoeller 17
10 July 2008
Assessing adverse effects from environmental chemical exposure is integral to public health policies. Toxicology assays identifying early biological changes from chemical exposure are increasing our ability to evaluate links between early biological disturbances and subsequent overt downstream effects. A workshop was held to consider how the resulting data inform consideration of an “adverse effect” in the context of hazard identification and risk assessment.
Our objective here is to review what is known about the relationships between chemical exposure, early biological effects (upstream events), and later overt effects (downstream events) through three case studies (thyroid hormone disruption, antiandrogen effects, immune system disruption) and to consider how to evaluate hazard and risk when early biological effect data are available.
Each case study presents data on the toxicity pathways linking early biological perturbations with downstream overt effects. Case studies also emphasize several factors that can influence risk of overt disease as a result from early biological perturbations, including background chemical exposures, underlying individual biological processes, and disease susceptibility. Certain effects resulting from exposure during periods of sensitivity may be irreversible. A chemical can act through multiple modes of action, resulting in similar or different overt effects.
For certain classes of early perturbations, sufficient information on the disease process is known, so hazard and quantitative risk assessment can proceed using information on upstream biological perturbations. Upstream data will support improved approaches for considering developmental stage, background exposures, disease status, and other factors important to assessing hazard and risk for the whole population.