New directions in toxicity testing.
In 2007, the U.S. National Research Council (NRC) published a groundbreaking report entitled Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy. The purpose of this report was to develop a long-range strategic plan to update and advance the way environmental agents are tested for toxicity. The vision focused on the identification of critical perturbations of toxicity pathways that lead to adverse human health outcomes using modern scientific tools and technologies. This review describes how emerging scientific methods will move the NRC vision forward and improve the manner in which the potential health risks associated with exposure to environmental agents are assessed. The new paradigm for toxicity testing is compatible with the widely used four-stage risk assessment framework originally proposed by the NRC in 1983 in the so-called Red Book. The Nrf2 antioxidant pathway provides a detailed example of how relevant pathway perturbations will be identified within the context of the new NRC vision for the future of toxicity testing. The implications of the NRC vision for toxicity testing for regulatory risk assessment are also discussed.