ABSTRACT: The vision of the toxicology in the 21st century movement is to overcome the currently used animal tests and identify molecular pathways of toxicity, using human in vitro systems with the aim to provide the most relevant mechanistic information for human risk assessment. It is expected to translate key surrogate biomarkers to novel types of toxicity-related high throughput screening of the many thousands of compounds which need to be tested during development phases of the pharmaceutical industry and with regard to the REACH legislation in Europe. Systems biology, an emerging and increasingly popular field of research, appears to be the discipline of choice to integrate results from transcriptomics, proteomics, epigenomics and metabonomics technologies used to analyze samples from toxicological models. The challenges, however, with respect to data generation, statistical treatment, bioinformatic integration and interpretation or in silico modeling remain formidable. One of the main difficulties is the fact that the sheer number of molecular species is inflated enormously in the course of translation from genes to proteins due to post-translational modifications. Moreover, at the level of proteins, time scales of cellular reactions to toxic insults can be very fast, ranging from milliseconds to seconds. Linear dynamic ranges of concentration differences between conditions can also differ by several orders of magnitude. So, the search for protein biomarkers of toxicity requires sophisticated strategies for time-resolved quantitative differential approaches. The statistical principles, normalization of primary data and principal component and cluster analysis have been well developed for genomics/transcriptomics and partly for proteomics, but have not been widely adapted to technologies like metabonomics. Also, the integration of functional data, in particular data from mass spectrometry, with the aim of modeling pathways of toxicity for human risk assessment, is still at an infant stage.
Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis 03/2012; 746(2):113-23. · 2.85 Impact Factor