Exposome-Explorer: A Database On Biomarkers Of Exposure For Cancer Risk Factors

Vanessa NEVEU, International Agency for Research on Cancer, France

1 International Agency for Research on Cancer, Nutrition and Metabolism Section, Biomarkers Group, 150 cours Albert Thomas, F-69372 Lyon Cedex 08, France
2 Department of Computing Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E8, Canada

Purpose: Biomarkers can be used to directly assess environmental exposures to cancer risk factors from biological samples. The identification and selection of the most relevant exposure biomarkers for epidemiological studies is complex and many parameters must be taken into consideration. The corresponding information is scattered in hundreds of scientific publications and often heterogenous in nature. We present here Exposome-Explorer, a new database and web application specifically designed for the collection, organization and retrieval of information on biomarkers of exposure to lifestyle and environmental risk factors measured in epidemiological or biomonitoring studies.

Methods: Highly detailed information on biomarkers of dietary and pollution exposure measured in population studies was systematically collected from peer-reviewed publications. It includes a description of the populations and subjects in each study, samples analyzed, methods used for biomarker analyses, concentrations in biospecimens, correlations with external exposure measurements and biological reproducibilities over time. The database and the web interface to insert, validate and retrieve data were developed in Ruby on Rails.

Results: Data was manually extracted from the scientific literature and inserted in Exposome-Explorer using the annotation interface. The content of almost 500 publications has already been analyzed and 8,850 concentration values in blood, urine and other biospecimens for 492 dietary and pollutant biomarkers were extracted. Exposome-Explorer also contains over 8,000 correlations values between dietary biomarker levels and food intake in various populations. Additionally, 539 intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) values for biological reproducibility of dietary and pollutant biomarkers over time were also compiled. The new web interface allows making all types of queries to retrieve and analyse the data.

Conclusions: Exposome-Explorer is the first existing database dedicated to biomarkers of exposure to environmental factors. It should be very useful to define panels of exposure biomarkers for epidemiological studies on cancer.

Funding sources: European Commission FP7, NutriTech and Exposomics projects.