Sequencing the exposome: A call to action.

Research paper by Dean P DP Jones

Indexed on: 02 Jan '16Published on: 02 Jan '16Published in: Toxicology Reports


The exposome is a complement to the genome that includes non-genetic causes of disease. Multiple definitions are available, with salient points being global inclusion of exposures and behaviors, and cumulative integration of associated biologic responses. As such, the concept is both refreshingly simple and dauntingly complex. This article reviews high-resolution metabolomics (HRM) as an affordable approach to routinely analyze samples for a broad spectrum of environmental chemicals and biologic responses. HRM has been successfully used in multiple exposome research paradigms and is suitable to implement in a prototype universal exposure surveillance system. Development of such a structure for systematic monitoring of environmental exposures is an important step toward sequencing the exposome because it builds upon successes of exposure science, naturally connects external exposure to body burden and partitions the exposome into workable components. Practical results would be repositories of quantitative data on chemicals according to geography and biology. This would support new opportunities for environmental health analysis and predictive modeling. Complementary approaches to hasten development of exposome theory and associated biologic response networks could include experimental studies with model systems, analysis of archival samples from longitudinal studies with outcome data and study of relatively short-lived animals, such as household pets (dogs and cats) and non-human primates (common marmoset). International investment and cooperation to sequence the human exposome will advance scientific knowledge and also provide an important foundation to control adverse environmental exposures to sustain healthy living spaces and improve prediction and management of disease.