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Table 1 Summary of research questions and main outputs of the EXPOsOMICS project

From: EXPOsOMICS: final policy workshop and stakeholder consultation

Research Question Main Outputs
(1) Is it possible to refine exposure assessment to air pollution and water contaminants using a combination of personal exposure monitoring and omic technologies? -Detailed 24 h PEMs for PM2.5 and UFP conducted on 200 participants
-LUR models for PM2.5 and NO2 developed for Western Europe
-LUR models for UFP and oxidative potential of PM2.5 developed in six European areas
-Short-term exposure to air pollutants induced changes in omic profiles, including gene expression, metabolites, and immune markers
-A expanded range of DBPs in air, water and/or in biological samples such as exhaled breath and urine were measured/modeled
-Numerous metabolic and transcriptional changes due to swimming in a chlorinated pool
(2) Will that refinement lead to more accurate estimates of the association with selected diseases, by reducing measurement error? -Increased RRs for total mortality and ischemic heart disease and asthma incidence using PM2.5 deattenuation factors from the PEM study
-Positive association between high levels of brominated THM exposure and colorectal cancer risk
(3) Do new approaches allow the investigation of the effects of mixtures in addition to single components? -Lack of overlap between omics signals for different air pollutants (may suggest the ability of omics to detect pollutant-specific biological effects)
(4) Do they improve the investigation of dose-response relationships? -Omics signals occurred at very low levels of exposure and following short-term exposure
(5) Is it possible to strengthen causal reasoning by using the “meet-in-the-middle” concept, i.e. investigate the temporal sequence of exposure, biological pathway perturbation and disease onset? -Metabolomics was used to study meet-in-the-middle pathways linking air pollution to adult-onset asthma with observed evidence of the involvement of both linoleate metabolism and carnitine pathways lending causal credibility to the association
-Transcriptional and microRNA changes observed after swimming were linked to bladder and colon cancer risk from previous studies
(6) Is it possible to use the exposome approach to study the life-course epidemiology of environmental diseases? -Air pollution impacts on both asthma and cardiovascular disease via pro-inflammatory and oxidative stress pathways, consistent with accumulation of oxidative molecular damage over years of exposure
- Known candidate transcriptome profiles of blood pressure/insulin in adulthood were associated with prenatal PM exposure at birth
-Longitudinal air pollution exposures were associated with alterations in genes involved in neurotransmission and tumor suppression pathways
  1. Abbreviations: DBP Disinfection by-product, LUR Land-use regression, NO 2 Nitrogen dioxide, PM 2.5 Particulate matter less than 2.5 μm in diameter, PEM Personal exposure measurements, RR Relative risk, THM Trihalomethane, UFP Ultrafine particles