Host Susceptibility Program

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The National Toxicology Program (NTP) is developing a new program to study the genetic basis for differences in susceptibility that may lead to a better understanding of how substances in our environment may be hazardous to some individuals and not to others. Asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, etc. are a few examples of diseases associated with multiple interacting genes of high, intermediate, or low penetrance that are induced or influenced by environmental exposure to toxins.

The Host Susceptibility Program will provide the NTP with a mechanism for planning, conducting, and analyzing multi-strain animal model assessment of the acute chemical toxicity, potentially associated with a human disease or disease process (e.g., DNA damage, xenobiotic metabolism, hormonal signaling, mitochondrial energetics, etc.), as a result of genes and environment interactions. The NTP's current research and testing program evaluates acute to long term exposure to substances in isogenic strains of rats and/or mice to determine potential hazard. Through the Host Susceptibility Program, NTP scientists will take chemicals identified as toxicants in the research and testing program and evaluate them in multiple genetically diverse isogenic mouse strains to determine which strains are particularly sensitive or insensitive to the chemicals causing toxicity and associated disease.

The Host Susceptibility Program will identify critical areas of research, perform initial toxicity and phenotyping studies, and thus provide data and biological samples for further investigation through the extramural and/or intramural research programs. Ultimately, the NTP expects to learn more about the key genes and pathways involved in the toxic response and the etiology of disease mediated by substances in our environment. Such an understanding of genes and environment interactions will lead to more specific and targeted research and testing strategies for the NTP scientists to use for predicting the potential toxicity of substances in our environment and their presumptive risk to humans and disease susceptibility.

Request for Information

The Request for Information (RFI): Genetic variation and the basis for individual susceptibility to environmental toxicant associated disease was published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts ( on September 6, 2007. The RFI solicited information from the extramural and intramural research communities on the strategies, resources, and tools necessary to enable this cooperative research program on genetic variation and individual susceptibility to environmental toxicant exposure and associated polygenic diseases to progress.

Contact information

For questions or additional information contact:

Dr. John E. French
National Toxicology Program
P.O. Box 12233, MD EC-21
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
T: (919) 541-2569