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Biomarkers. 2009 Dec;14(8):560-71. doi: 10.3109/13547500903186460.

Influence of systems biology response and environmental exposure level on between-subject variability in breath and blood biomarkers.

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Human Exposure and Atmospheric Sciences Division, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711, USA.


To explain the underlying causes of apparently stochastic disease, current research is focusing on systems biology approaches wherein individual genetic makeup and specific 'gene-environment' interactions are considered. This is an extraordinarily complex task because both the environmental exposure profiles and the specific genetic susceptibilities presumably have large variance components. In this article, the focus is on the initial steps along the path to disease outcome namely environmental uptake, biologically available dose, and preclinical effect. The general approach is to articulate a conceptual model and identify biomarker measurements that could populate the model with hard data. Between-subject variance components from different exposure studies are used to estimate the source and magnitude of the variability of biomarker measurements. The intent is to determine the relative effects of different biological media (breath or blood), environmental compounds and their metabolites, different concentration levels, and levels of environmental exposure control. Examples are drawn from three distinct exposure biomarker studies performed by the US Environmental Protection Agency that studied aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, trichloroethylene and methyl tertiary butyl ether. All results are based on empirical biomarker measurements of breath and blood from human subjects; biological specimens were collected under appropriate Institutional Review Board protocols with informed consent of the subjects. The ultimate goal of this work is to develop a framework for eventually assessing the total susceptibility ranges along the toxicological pathway from exposure to effect. The investigation showed that exposures are a greater contributor to biomarker variance than are internal biological parameters.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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