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Specificity & dosimetry of toxicologic responses

  [ 24 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • August 15, 1996

Toxicology has two goals. The first is to identify and characterize
the adverse effects that can be produced in biological systems
by exposure to chemicals and the second is to use this
information to predict the type and severity of responses in
other species and exposure situations. The tools that the
toxicologist uses to detect and describe the adverse effects
of chemical exposure include the traditional acute,
subchronic, and chronic studies in animals plus a variety of
special studies designed to demonstrate specific organ
damage, reproductive and teratogenic effects, neurotoxicity,
immunotoxicity, genotoxicity, and other responses. These are
often supplemented with studies of the kinetics and the
mechanism of action and more recently with studies designed to
elucidate the molecular basis for cancer and other effects.
Theses studies together with the information on exposure
provide the basis for subsequent toxicologic predictions.
Although general effects such as weight loss and mortality
are included in toxicity protocols, most of the toxicology
tests are related to specific end-organ toxicity or to
mechanism or behavioral studies. We do not have animal
protocols to study individually the subjective symptoms
described for multiple chemical sensitivity, such as
depression, fatigue, headache, and memory loss, and our tests
lack sufficient specificity to evaluate a syndrome which is
composed primarily of such symptoms. Since all chemicals can
produce adverse effects under some conditions of exposure,
toxicologic predictions are most useful when they specify
both the type of adverse effect anticipated and the dose
required to produce the effect. Multiple chemical sensitivity
does not appear to consistently involve specific chemicals or
specific adverse effects and the effects observed are
reported to lack evidence of a threshold and to occur at
extremely low levels. It is difficult to include these
parameters in any reasonable toxicologic prediction relating
cause and response in multiple chemical sensitivity or
similar conditions.

Doull J

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