Application of Reporter Animals as Novel Tools in Food Safety Research
The current methodologies employed in the field of toxicology have a limited predicting value of toxic effects; the investigational tools are usually static in nature and detect toxicity in a snapshot of time, thus providing only a partial view of the molecular mechanism underlying the toxic effects. Classical tests do not highlight small physiological changes (subtle effects) due to toxicity as they are developed mostly to monitor adverse effects (overt effects) and in addition require the use of a large number of animals.
At the present time, the major challenge for environmental and alimentary toxicologists is the detection of toxicants, generally present at very low concentrations, and the evaluation of their cumulative effects during long-term exposure. More effort should be devoted to the generation of appropriate model systems for the rapid, cost-effective and reproducible analysis of the overall effects of toxic compounds on living organisms.
Recently, the concept of receptor-mediated toxicity has driven the field of toxicology to carry out tests that are more predictable, leading to a through understanding of mechanism-based toxicity (MBT). Molecular imaging as a key to understanding MBT might provide a means of meeting this challenge by being cost effective, non-invasive and allow us to monitor the receptor dynamics in the length of time (temporal dimension) and provide a global view of the potential target organs of toxicity in all the spectrum of body action of the whole mouse (spatial dimension).