Application of metabolomics to characterize environmental pollutant toxicity and disease risks

Pan Deng, Xusheng Li, Michael C. Petriello, Chunyan Wang, Andrew J. Morris, Bernhard Hennig

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The increased incidence of non-communicable human diseases may be attributed, at least partially, to exposures to toxic chemicals such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), air pollutants and heavy metals. Given the high mortality and morbidity of pollutant exposure associated diseases, a better understanding of the related mechanisms of toxicity and impacts on the endogenous host metabolism are needed. The metabolome represents the collection of the intermediates and end products of cellular processes, and is the most proximal reporter of the body's response to environmental exposures and pathological processes. Metabolomics is a powerful tool for studying how organisms interact with their environment and how these interactions shape diseases related to pollutant exposure. This mini review discusses potential biological mechanisms that link pollutant exposure to metabolic disturbances and chronic human diseases, with a focus on recent studies that demonstrate the application of metabolomics as a tool to elucidate biochemical modes of actions of various environmental pollutants. In addition, classes of metabolites that have been shown to be modulated by multiple environmental pollutants will be discussed with an emphasis on their use as potential early biomarkers of disease risks. Taken together, metabolomics is a useful and versatile tool for characterizing the disease risks and mechanisms associated with various environmental pollutants.

Original languageEnglish
JournalReviews on Environmental Health
StateAccepted/In press - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.


  • POP
  • disease
  • heavy metal
  • metabolomics
  • pollutant
  • toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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