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Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Aug;124(8):1141-54. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1510456. Epub 2016 Mar 15.

Prioritizing Environmental Chemicals for Obesity and Diabetes Outcomes Research: A Screening Approach Using ToxCast™ High-Throughput Data.

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Division of the National Toxicology Program, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA.



Diabetes and obesity are major threats to public health in the United States and abroad. Understanding the role that chemicals in our environment play in the development of these conditions is an emerging issue in environmental health, although identifying and prioritizing chemicals for testing beyond those already implicated in the literature is challenging. This review is intended to help researchers generate hypotheses about chemicals that may contribute to diabetes and to obesity-related health outcomes by summarizing relevant findings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ToxCast™ high-throughput screening (HTS) program.


Our aim was to develop new hypotheses around environmental chemicals of potential interest for diabetes- or obesity-related outcomes using high-throughput screening data.


We identified ToxCast™ assay targets relevant to several biological processes related to diabetes and obesity (insulin sensitivity in peripheral tissue, pancreatic islet and β cell function, adipocyte differentiation, and feeding behavior) and presented chemical screening data against those assay targets to identify chemicals of potential interest.


The results of this screening-level analysis suggest that the spectrum of environmental chemicals to consider in research related to diabetes and obesity is much broader than indicated by research papers and reviews published in the peer-reviewed literature. Testing hypotheses based on ToxCast™ data will also help assess the predictive utility of this HTS platform.


More research is required to put these screening-level analyses into context, but the information presented in this review should facilitate the development of new hypotheses.


Auerbach S, Filer D, Reif D, Walker V, Holloway AC, Schlezinger J, Srinivasan S, Svoboda D, Judson R, Bucher JR, Thayer KA. 2016. Prioritizing environmental chemicals for obesity and diabetes outcomes research: a screening approach using ToxCast™ high-throughput data. Environ Health Perspect 124:1141-1154;

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