Biomarkers as tools in human health risk assessment

Helmut Greim, György Csanády, Johannes Georg Filser, Paul Kreuzer, Leslie Schwarz, Thomas Wolff, Silke Werner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Evaluation of occupational or environmental risk due to exposure to chemicals requires sufficient information on the toxic profiles, mechanisms of action, toxicokinetics, dose-response relation, exposure, and the target dose. Usually exposure is estimated by measuring concentrations of the agent in air, food, water, soil, dust, or other media with which a population or an individual is in contact. However, this external exposure is only a rough estimate for the internal exposure (agent dose or its metabolite at the critical target in the organism). Factors of influence are bioavailability of the chemicals, variations in concentrations and routes of exposure, physical activity, and individual variation in rates of metabolism, distribution, and excretion. All these affect the concentration of the toxic agent at the critical target, which is the most precise information for risk assessment. Thus, internal exposure is best measured by determining the concentration of the toxicant or its ultimate metabolite at the critical site in the target organ or by determining adducts with cellular macromolecules such as proteins, amino acids, DNA, or its bases. The latter are easily available in experimental toxicology from animal experiments but only occasionally from humans. For health surveillance such data usually are not available, because they require invasive procedures such as biopsies. Therefore, more accessible body fluids or tissue are used, such as blood, urine, or adipose tissue, or adducts with macromolecules such as albumin or hemoglobin in the blood, DNA adducts in peripheral lymphocytes, or altered DNA bases in urine such as 8- hydroxyguanine. All of these are indicators for exposure, whereas risk can only be estimated if the correlation between their deviations from normal and the dose-response at the critical target is known.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1804-1808
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Chemistry
Issue number12 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA adducts
  • cyproterone acetate
  • target dose
  • toxicology


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