The European Centre for the Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals (ECETOC) organised a workshop to discuss the state-of-the-art research on noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) as biomarkers in regulatory toxicology and as analytical and therapeutic agents. There was agreement that ncRNA expression profiling data requires careful evaluation to determine the utility of specific ncRNAs as biomarkers. To advance the use of ncRNA in regulatory toxicology, the following research priorities were identified: (1) Conduct comprehensive literature reviews to identify possibly suitable ncRNAs and areas of toxicology where ncRNA expression profiling could address prevailing scientific deficiencies. (2) Develop consensus on how to conduct ncRNA expression profiling in a toxicological context. (3) Conduct experimental projects, including, e.g., rat (90-day) oral toxicity studies, to evaluate the toxicological relevance of the expression profiles of selected ncRNAs. Thereby, physiological ncRNA expression profiles should be established, including the biological variability of healthy individuals. To substantiate the relevance of key ncRNAs for cell homeostasis or pathogenesis, molecular events should be dose-dependently linked with substance-induced apical effects. Applying a holistic approach, knowledge on ncRNAs, 'omics and epigenetics technologies should be integrated into adverse outcome pathways to improve the understanding of the functional roles of ncRNAs within a regulatory context.
Keywords: Adverse-outcome-pathway; Biomarker; Gene expression; Noncoding RNA (ncRNA); Phenotypic consequence; Regulatory toxicology.
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