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The adverse outcome pathway (AOP) framework is a conceptual construct that mechanistically links molecular initiating events to adverse biological outcomes through a series of causal key events (KEs) that represent the perturbation of the biological system. Quantitative, predictive AOPs are necessary for screening emerging contaminants and potential substitutes to inform their prioritization for testing. In practice, they are not widely used because they can be costly to develop and validate. A modular approach for assembly of quantitative AOPs, based on existing knowledge, would allow for rapid development of biological pathway models to screen contaminants for potential hazards and prioritize them for subsequent testing and modeling. For each pair of KEs, a quantitative KE relationship (KER) can be derived as a response-response function or a conditional probability matrix describing the anticipated change in a KE based on the response of the prior KE. This transfer of response across KERs can be used to assemble a quantitative AOP. Here we demonstrate the use of the proposed approach in two cases: inhibition of cytochrome P450 aromatase leading to reduced fecundity in fathead minnows and ionic glutamate receptor mediated excitotoxicity leading to memory impairment in humans. The models created from these chains have value in characterizing the pathway and the relative level of toxicological effect anticipated. This approach to simplistic, modular AOP models has wide applicability for rapid development of biological pathway models.
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