Adverse outcome pathways as a tool for the design of testing strategies to support the safety assessment of emerging advanced materials at the nanoscale

Sabina Halappanavar*, Sybille Van Den Brule, Penny Nymark, Laurent Gaté, Carole Seidel, Sarah Valentino, Vadim Zhernovkov, Pernille Høgh Danielsen, Andrea De Vizcaya, Henrik Wolff, Tobias Stöger, Andrey Boyadziev, Sarah Søs Poulsen, Jorid Birkelund Sørli, Ulla Vogel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Toxicity testing and regulation of advanced materials at the nanoscale, i.e. nanosafety, is challenged by the growing number of nanomaterials and their property variants requiring assessment for potential human health impacts. The existing animal-reliant toxicity testing tools are onerous in terms of time and resources and are less and less in line with the international effort to reduce animal experiments. Thus, there is a need for faster, cheaper, sensitive and effective animal alternatives that are supported by mechanistic evidence. More importantly, there is an urgency for developing alternative testing strategies that help justify the strategic prioritization of testing or targeting the most apparent adverse outcomes, selection of specific endpoints and assays and identifying nanomaterials of high concern. The Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) framework is a systematic process that uses the available mechanistic information concerning a toxicological response and describes causal or mechanistic linkages between a molecular initiating event, a series of intermediate key events and the adverse outcome. The AOP framework provides pragmatic insights to promote the development of alternative testing strategies. This review will detail a brief overview of the AOP framework and its application to nanotoxicology, tools for developing AOPs and the role of toxicogenomics, and summarize various AOPs of relevance to inhalation toxicity of nanomaterials that are currently under various stages of development. The review also presents a network of AOPs derived from connecting all AOPs, which shows that several adverse outcomes induced by nanomaterials originate from a molecular initiating event that describes the interaction of nanomaterials with lung cells and involve similar intermediate key events. Finally, using the example of an established AOP for lung fibrosis, the review will discuss various in vitro tests available for assessing lung fibrosis and how the information can be used to support a tiered testing strategy for lung fibrosis. The AOPs and AOP network enable deeper understanding of mechanisms involved in inhalation toxicity of nanomaterials and provide a strategy for the development of alternative test methods for hazard and risk assessment of nanomaterials.
Original languageEnglish
Article number16
JournalParticle and Fibre Toxicology
Issue number1
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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