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See detailThe exposome and health: Where chemistry meets biology
Vermeulen, Roel; Schymanski, Emma UL; Barabási, Albert-László et al

in Science (2020), 367(6476), 392--396

Despite extensive evidence showing that exposure to specific chemicals can lead to disease, current research approaches and regulatory policies fail to address the chemical complexity of our world. To ... [more ▼]

Despite extensive evidence showing that exposure to specific chemicals can lead to disease, current research approaches and regulatory policies fail to address the chemical complexity of our world. To safeguard current and future generations from the increasing number of chemicals polluting our environment, a systematic and agnostic approach is needed. The \textquotedblleftexposome\textquotedblright concept strives to capture the diversity and range of exposures to synthetic chemicals, dietary constituents, psychosocial stressors, and physical factors, as well as their corresponding biological responses. Technological advances such as high-resolution mass spectrometry and network science have allowed us to take the first steps toward a comprehensive assessment of the exposome. Given the increased recognition of the dominant role that nongenetic factors play in disease, an effort to characterize the exposome at a scale comparable to that of the human genome is warranted. [less ▲]

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See detailTracking complex mixtures of chemicals in our changing environment
Escher, Beate I.; Stapleton, Heather M.; Schymanski, Emma UL

in Science (2020), 367(6476), 388--392

Chemicals have improved our quality of life, but the resulting environmental pollution has the potential to cause detrimental effects on humans and the environment. People and biota are chronically ... [more ▼]

Chemicals have improved our quality of life, but the resulting environmental pollution has the potential to cause detrimental effects on humans and the environment. People and biota are chronically exposed to thousands of chemicals from various environmental sources through multiple pathways. Environmental chemists and toxicologists have moved beyond detecting and quantifying single chemicals to characterizing complex mixtures of chemicals in indoor and outdoor environments and biological matrices. We highlight analytical and bioanalytical approaches to isolating, characterizing, and tracking groups of chemicals of concern in complex matrices. Techniques that combine chemical analysis and bioassays have the potential to facilitate the identification of mixtures of chemicals that pose a combined risk. [less ▲]

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See detailConnecting environmental exposure and neurodegeneration using cheminformatics and high resolution mass spectrometry: potential and challenges
Schymanski, Emma UL; Baker, Nancy C.; Williams, Antony J et al

in Environmental Science. Processes and Impacts (2019)

Connecting chemical exposures over a lifetime to complex chronic diseases with multifactorial causes such as neurodegenerative diseases is an immense challenge requiring a long-term, interdisciplinary ... [more ▼]

Connecting chemical exposures over a lifetime to complex chronic diseases with multifactorial causes such as neurodegenerative diseases is an immense challenge requiring a long-term, interdisciplinary approach. Rapid developments in analytical and data technologies, such as non-target high resolution mass spectrometry (NT-HR-MS), have opened up new possibilities to accomplish this, inconceivable 20 years ago. While NT-HR-MS is being applied to increasingly complex research questions, there are still many unidentified chemicals and uncertainties in linking exposures to human health outcomes and environmental impacts. In this perspective, we explore the possibilities and challenges involved in using cheminformatics and NT-HR-MS to answer complex questions that cross many scientific disciplines, taking the identification of potential (small molecule) neurotoxicants in environmental or biological matrices as a case study. We explore capturing literature knowledge and patient exposure information in a form amenable to high-throughput data mining, and the related cheminformatic challenges. We then briefly cover which sample matrices are available, which method(s) could potentially be used to detect these chemicals in various matrices and what remains beyond the reach of NT-HR-MS. We touch on the potential for biological validation systems to contribute to mechanistic understanding of observations and explore which sampling and data archiving strategies may be required to form an accurate, sustained picture of small molecule signatures on extensive cohorts of patients with chronic neurodegenerative disorders. Finally, we reflect on how NT-HR-MS can support unravelling the contribution of the environment to complex diseases. [less ▲]

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See detailSWEMSA 2019: Finding Small Molecules in Big Data
Schymanski, Emma UL

Presentation (2019)

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See detailExploring open cheminformatics approaches for categorizing per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)
Sha, Bo; Schymanski, Emma UL; Ruttkies, Christoph et al

in Environmental Science. Processes and Impacts (2019), 21(11), 1835--1851

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are a large and diverse class of chemicals of great interest due to their wide commercial applicability, as well as increasing public concern regarding their ... [more ▼]

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are a large and diverse class of chemicals of great interest due to their wide commercial applicability, as well as increasing public concern regarding their adverse impacts. A common terminology for PFASs was recommended in 2011, including broad categorization and detailed naming for many PFASs with rather simple molecular structures. Recent advancements in chemical analysis have enabled identification of a wide variety of PFASs that are not covered by this common terminology. The resulting inconsistency in categorizing and naming of PFASs is preventing efficient assimilation of reported information. This article explores how a combination of expert knowledge and cheminformatics approaches could help address this challenge in a systematic manner. First, the “splitPFAS” approach was developed to systematically subdivide PFASs (for eventual categorization) following a CnF2n+1–X–R pattern into their various parts, with a particular focus on 4 PFAS categories where X is CO, SO2, CH2 and CH2CH2. Then, the open, ontology-based “ClassyFire” approach was tested for potential applicability to categorizing and naming PFASs using five scenarios of original and simplified structures based on the “splitPFAS” output. This workflow was applied to a set of 770 PFASs from the latest OECD PFAS list. While splitPFAS categorized PFASs as intended, the ClassyFire results were mixed. These results reveal that open cheminformatics approaches have the potential to assist in categorizing PFASs in a consistent manner, while much development is needed for future systematic naming of PFASs. The “splitPFAS” tool and related code are publicly available, and include options to extend this proof-of-concept to encompass further PFASs in the future. [less ▲]

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See detailNon-target screening reveals time trends of polar micropollutants in a riverbank filtration system
Albergamo, Vittorio; Schollée, Jennifer E.; Schymanski, Emma UL et al

in Environmental Science and Technology (2019), 53(13), 7584-7594

The historic emissions of polar micropollutants in a natural drinking water source were investigated by nontarget screening with high-resolution mass spectrometry and open cheminformatics tools. The study ... [more ▼]

The historic emissions of polar micropollutants in a natural drinking water source were investigated by nontarget screening with high-resolution mass spectrometry and open cheminformatics tools. The study area consisted of a riverbank filtration transect fed by the river Lek, a branch of the lower Rhine, and exhibiting up to 60-year travel time. More than 18,000 profiles were detected. Hierarchical clustering revealed that 43% of the 15 most populated clusters were characterized by intensity trends with maxima in the 1990s, reflecting intensified human activities, wastewater treatment plant upgrades and regulation in the Rhine riparian countries. Tentative structure annotation was performed using automated in silico fragmentation. Candidate structures retrieved from ChemSpider were scored based on the fit of the in silico fragments to the experimental tandem mass spectra, similarity to openly accessible accurate mass spectra, associated metadata, and presence in a suspect list. Sixty-seven unique structures (72 over both ionization modes) were tentatively identified, 25 of which were confirmed and included contaminants so far unknown to occur in bank filtrate or in natural waters at all, such as tetramethylsulfamide. This study demonstrates that many classes of hydrophilic organics enter riverbank filtration systems, persisting and migrating for decades if biogeochemical conditions are stable. [less ▲]

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See detailEstablish data infrastructure to compile and exchange environmental screening data on a European scale
Slobodnik, Jaroslav; Hollender, Juliane; Schulze, Tobias et al

in Environmental Sciences Europe (2019), 31(1), 65

Robust techniques based on liquid (LC) and gas chromatography (GC) coupled with high-resolution mass spectrometry (HR-MS) enable sensitive screening, identification, and (semi)quantification of thousands ... [more ▼]

Robust techniques based on liquid (LC) and gas chromatography (GC) coupled with high-resolution mass spectrometry (HR-MS) enable sensitive screening, identification, and (semi)quantification of thousands of substances in a single sample. Recent progress in computational sciences has enabled archiving and processing of HR-MS ‘big data’ at the routine level. As a result, community-based databases containing thousands of environmental pollutants are rapidly growing and large databases of substances with unique identifiers allowing for inter-comparison at the global scale have become available. A data-archiving infrastructure is proposed, allowing for retrospective screening of HR-MS data, which will help define the ‘chemical universe’ of organic substances and enable prioritisation of toxicants causing adverse environmental effects at the local, river basin, and national and European scale in support of the European water and chemicals management policy. [less ▲]

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See detailHigh-resolution mass spectrometry to complement monitoring and track emerging chemicals and pollution trends in European water resources
Brack, Werner; Hollender, Juliane; de Alda, Miren López et al

in Environmental Sciences Europe (2019), 31(1), 62

Currently, chemical monitoring based on priority substances fails to consider the majority of known environmental micropollutants not to mention the unexpected and unknown chemicals that may contribute to ... [more ▼]

Currently, chemical monitoring based on priority substances fails to consider the majority of known environmental micropollutants not to mention the unexpected and unknown chemicals that may contribute to the toxic risk of complex mixtures present in the environment. Complementing component- and effect-based monitoring with wide-scope target, suspect, and non-target screening (NTS) based on high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) data is recommended to support environmental impact and risk assessment. This will allow for detection of newly emerging compounds and transformation products, retrospective monitoring efforts, and the identification of possible drivers of toxicity by correlation with effects or modelling of expected effects for future and abatement scenarios. HRMS is becoming increasingly available in many laboratories. Thus, the time is right to establish and harmonize screening methods, train staff, and record HRMS data for samples from regular monitoring events and surveys. This will strongly enhance the value of chemical monitoring data for evaluating complex chemical pollution problems, at limited additional costs. Collaboration and data exchange on a European-to-global scale is essential to maximize the benefit of chemical screening. Freely accessible data platforms, inter-laboratory trials, and the involvement of international partners and networks are recommended. [less ▲]

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See detailLet us empower the WFD to prevent risks of chemical pollution in European rivers and lakes
Brack, Werner; Ait-Aissa, Selim; Altenburger, Rolf et al

in Environmental Sciences Europe (2019), 31(1), 1-3

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See detailStrengthen the European collaborative environmental research to meet European policy goals for achieving a sustainable, non-toxic environment
Brack, Werner; Ait-Aissa, Selim; Backhaus, Thomas et al

in Environmental Sciences Europe (2019), 31(1), 1--9

To meet the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals and the European Union (EU) strategy for a non-toxic environment, water resources and ecosystems management require cost-efficient solutions ... [more ▼]

To meet the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals and the European Union (EU) strategy for a non-toxic environment, water resources and ecosystems management require cost-efficient solutions for prevailing complex contamination and multiple stressor exposures. For the protection of water resources under global change conditions, specific research needs for prediction, monitoring, assessment and abatement of multiple stressors emerge with respect to maintaining human needs, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. Collaborative European research seems an ideal instrument to mobilize the required transdisciplinary scientific support and tackle the large-scale dimension and develop options required for implementation of European policies. Calls for research on minimizing society’s chemical footprints in the water–food–energy–security nexus are required. European research should be complemented with targeted national scientific funding to address specific transformation pathways and support the evaluation, demonstration and implementation of novel approaches on regional scales. The foreseeable pressure developments due to demographic, economic and climate changes require solution-oriented thinking, focusing on the assessment of sustainable abatement options and transformation pathways rather than on status evaluation. Stakeholder involvement is a key success factor in collaborative projects as it allows capturing added value, to address other levels of complexity, and find smarter solutions by synthesizing scientific evidence, integrating governance issues, and addressing transition pathways. This increases the chances of closing the value chain by implementing novel solutions. For the water quality topic, the interacting European collaborative projects SOLUTIONS, MARS and GLOBAQUA and the NORMAN network provide best practice examples for successful applied collaborative research including multi-stakeholder involvement. They provided innovative conceptual, modelling and instrumental options for future monitoring and management of chemical mixtures and multiple stressors in European water resources. Advancement of EU water framework directive-related policies has therefore become an option. [less ▲]

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See detailThe metaRbolomics Toolbox in Bioconductor and beyond
Stanstrup, Jan; Broeckling, Corey D.; Helmus, Rick et al

in Metabolites (2019), 9(10), 200

Metabolomics aims to measure and characterise the complex composition of metabolites in a biological system. Metabolomics studies involve sophisticated analytical techniques such as mass spectrometry and ... [more ▼]

Metabolomics aims to measure and characterise the complex composition of metabolites in a biological system. Metabolomics studies involve sophisticated analytical techniques such as mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and generate large amounts of high-dimensional and complex experimental data. Open source processing and analysis tools are of major interest in light of innovative, open and reproducible science. The scientific community has developed a wide range of open source software, providing freely available advanced processing and analysis approaches. The programming and statistics environment R has emerged as one of the most popular environments to process and analyse Metabolomics datasets. A major benefit of such an environment is the possibility of connecting different tools into more complex workflows. Combining reusable data processing R scripts with the experimental data thus allows for open, reproducible research. This review provides an extensive overview of existing packages in R for different steps in a typical computational metabolomics workflow, including data processing, biostatistics, metabolite annotation and identification, and biochemical network and pathway analysis. Multifunctional workflows, possible user interfaces and integration into workflow management systems are also reviewed. In total, this review summarises more than two hundred metabolomics specific packages primarily available on CRAN, Bioconductor and GitHub. [less ▲]

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See detailOntology-based metabolomics data integration with quality control
Buendia, Patricia; Bradley, Ray M.; Taylor, Thomas J. et al

in Bioanalysis (2019), 11(12), 1139-1154

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See detailSupporting non-target identification by adding hydrogen deuterium exchange MS/MS capabilities to MetFrag
Ruttkies, Christoph; Schymanski, Emma UL; Strehmel, Nadine et al

in Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry (2019), 411(19), 4683-4700

Liquid chromatography coupled with high-resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS) is increasingly popular for the non-targeted exploration of complex samples, where tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) is used ... [more ▼]

Liquid chromatography coupled with high-resolution mass spectrometry (LC-HRMS) is increasingly popular for the non-targeted exploration of complex samples, where tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) is used to characterize the structure of unknown compounds. However, mass spectra do not always contain sufficient information to unequivocally identify the correct structure. This study investigated how much additional information can be gained using hydrogen deuterium exchange (HDX) experiments. The exchange of “easily exchangeable” hydrogen atoms (connected to heteroatoms), with predominantly [M+D]+ ions in positive mode and [M-D]− in negative mode was observed. To enable high-throughput processing, new scoring terms were incorporated into the in silico fragmenter MetFrag. These were initially developed on small datasets and then tested on 762 compounds of environmental interest. Pairs of spectra (normal and deuterated) were found for 593 of these substances (506 positive mode, 155 negative mode spectra). The new scoring terms resulted in 29 additional correct identifications (78 vs 49) for positive mode and an increase in top 10 rankings from 80 to 106 in negative mode. Compounds with dual functionality (polar head group, long apolar tail) exhibited dramatic retention time (RT) shifts of up to several minutes, compared with an average 0.04 min RT shift. For a smaller dataset of 80 metabolites, top 10 rankings improved from 13 to 24 (positive mode, 57 spectra) and from 14 to 31 (negative mode, 63 spectra) when including HDX information. The results of standard measurements were confirmed using targets and tentatively identified surfactant species in an environmental sample collected from the river Danube near Novi Sad (Serbia). The changes to MetFrag have been integrated into the command line version available at http://c-ruttkies.github.io/MetFrag and all resulting spectra and compounds are available in online resources and in the Electronic Supplementary Material (ESM). [less ▲]

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See detailFuture water quality monitoring: improving the balance between exposure and toxicity assessments of real-world pollutant mixtures
Altenburger, Rolf; Brack, Werner; Burgess, Robert M. et al

in Environmental Sciences Europe (2019), 31(1), 12

Environmental water quality monitoring aims to provide the data required for safeguarding the environment against adverse biological effects from multiple chemical contamination arising from anthropogenic ... [more ▼]

Environmental water quality monitoring aims to provide the data required for safeguarding the environment against adverse biological effects from multiple chemical contamination arising from anthropogenic diffuse emissions and point sources. Here, we integrate the experience of the international EU-funded project SOLUTIONS to shift the focus of water monitoring from a few legacy chemicals to complex chemical mixtures, and to identify relevant drivers of toxic effects. Monitoring serves a range of purposes, from control of chemical and ecological status compliance to safeguarding specific water uses, such as drinking water abstraction. Various water sampling techniques, chemical target, suspect and non-target analyses as well as an array of in vitro, in vivo and in situ bioanalytical methods were advanced to improve monitoring of water contamination. Major improvements for broader applicability include tailored sampling techniques, screening and identification techniques for a broader and more diverse set of chemicals, higher detection sensitivity, standardized protocols for chemical, toxicological, and ecological assessments combined with systematic evidence evaluation techniques. No single method or combination of methods is able to meet all divergent monitoring purposes. Current monitoring approaches tend to emphasize either targeted exposure or effect detection. Here, we argue that, irrespective of the specific purpose, assessment of monitoring results would benefit substantially from obtaining and linking information on the occurrence of both chemicals and potentially adverse biological effects. In this paper, we specify the information required to: (1) identify relevant contaminants, (2) assess the impact of contamination in aquatic ecosystems, or (3) quantify cause--effect relationships between contaminants and adverse effects. Specific strategies to link chemical and bioanalytical information are outlined for each of these distinct goals. These strategies have been developed and explored using case studies in the Danube and Rhine river basins as well as for rivers of the Iberian Peninsula. Current water quality assessment suffers from biases resulting from differences in approaches and associated uncertainty analyses. While exposure approaches tend to ignore data gaps (i.e., missing contaminants), effect-based approaches penalize data gaps with increased uncertainty factors. This integrated work suggests systematic ways to deal with mixture exposures and combined effects in a more balanced way, and thus provides guidance for future tailored environmental monitoring. [less ▲]

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See detailThe role of analytical chemistry in exposure science: Focus on the aquatic environment
Hernández, F.; Bakker, J.; Bijlsma, L. et al

in Chemosphere (2019), 222

Exposure science, in its broadest sense, studies the interactions between stressors (chemical, biological, and physical agents) and receptors (e.g. humans and other living organisms, and non-living items ... [more ▼]

Exposure science, in its broadest sense, studies the interactions between stressors (chemical, biological, and physical agents) and receptors (e.g. humans and other living organisms, and non-living items like buildings), together with the associated pathways and processes potentially leading to negative effects on human health and the environment. The aquatic environment may contain thousands of compounds, many of them still unknown, that can pose a risk to ecosystems and human health. Due to the unquestionable importance of the aquatic environment, one of the main challenges in the field of exposure science is the comprehensive characterization and evaluation of complex environmental mixtures beyond the classical/priority contaminants to new emerging contaminants. The role of advanced analytical chemistry to identify and quantify potential chemical risks, that might cause adverse effects to the aquatic environment, is essential. In this paper, we present the strategies and tools that analytical chemistry has nowadays, focused on chromatography hyphenated to (high-resolution) mass spectrometry because of its relevance in this field. Key issues, such as the application of effect direct analysis to reduce the complexity of the sample, the investigation of the huge number of transformation/degradation products that may be present in the aquatic environment, the analysis of urban wastewater as a source of valuable information on our lifestyle and substances we consumed and/or are exposed to, or the monitoring of drinking water, are discussed in this article. The trends and perspectives for the next few years are also highlighted, when it is expected that new developments and tools will allow a better knowledge of chemical composition in the aquatic environment. This will help regulatory authorities to protect water bodies and to advance towards improved regulations that enable practical and efficient abatements for environmental and public health protection. [less ▲]

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See detailIdentifying Small Molecules in Untargeted Exposomics Data: A case study of Thirdhand Smoke
Schymanski, Emma UL; Torres, Sonia; Ramirez, Noelia

Scientific Conference (2019)

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See detailEnvironmental Cheminformatics to Identify Unknown Chemicals and their Effects
Schymanski, Emma UL

Scientific Conference (2019)

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See detailChemInChIformatics: IUPAC's Role in the Environmental Monitoring Revolution
Schymanski, Emma UL

Scientific Conference (2019)

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See detailMt Sinai Special Seminar: Finding Small Molecules in Big Data
Schymanski, Emma UL

Presentation (2019)

Detailed reference viewed: 25 (1 UL)