The attempt to describe complex diseases by solely genetic determination has not been successful. There is increasing recognition that the development of disease is often a consequence of interactions between multiple genetic and environmental factors. To date, much of the research on environmental determinants of disease has focused on single exposures generally measured at a single time point. In order to address this limitation, the concept of the exposome has been introduced as a comprehensive approach, studying the full complement of environmental exposures from conception onwards. However, exposures are vast, dynamic, and diverse, and only a small proportion can be reasonably measured due to limitations in technology and feasibility. In addition, the interplay between genes and exposure as well as between different exposures is complicated and multifaceted, which leads to difficulties in linking disease or health outcomes with exposures. The large numbers of collected samples require well-designed logistics. Furthermore, the immense data sets generated from exposome studies require a significant computational investment for both data analysis and data storage. This report summarizes discussions during an international exposome symposium held at Gunma University in Japan regarding the concept of the exposome, challenges in exposome research, and future perspectives in the field.
Keywords: environment; epigenetics; exposome; exposure; metabolomics.