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Mode of Action Classifications in the EnviroTox Database: Development and Implementation of a Consensus MOA Classification

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  • Aude Kienzler, European Commission - Joint Research Centre
  • ,
  • Kristin A. Connors, Procter and Gamble
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  • Mark Bonnell, Place Vincent Massey
  • ,
  • Mace G. Barron, United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • ,
  • Amy Beasley, Dow Chemical
  • ,
  • Cristina G. Inglis, Place Vincent Massey
  • ,
  • Teresa J. Norberg-King, United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • ,
  • Todd Martin, United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • ,
  • Hans Sanderson
  • Nathalie Vallotton, Dow Chemical
  • ,
  • Peter Wilson, Sanofi
  • ,
  • Michelle R. Embry, Health and Environmental Sciences Institute

Multiple mode of action (MOA) frameworks have been developed in aquatic ecotoxicology, mainly based on fish toxicity. These frameworks provide information on a key determinant of chemical toxicity, but the MOA categories and level of specificity remain unique to each of the classification schemes. The present study aimed to develop a consensus MOA assignment within EnviroTox, a curated in vivo aquatic toxicity database, based on the following MOA classification schemes: Verhaar (modified) framework, Assessment Tool for Evaluating Risk, Toxicity Estimation Software Tool, and OASIS. The MOA classifications from each scheme were first collapsed into one of 3 categories: non–specifically acting (i.e., narcosis), specifically acting, or nonclassifiable. Consensus rules were developed based on the degree of concordance among the 4 individual MOA classifications to attribute a consensus MOA to each chemical. A confidence rank was also assigned to the consensus MOA classification based on the degree of consensus. Overall, 40% of the chemicals were classified as narcotics, 17% as specifically acting, and 43% as unclassified. Sixty percent of chemicals had a medium to high consensus MOA assignment. When compared to empirical acute toxicity data, the general trend of specifically acting chemicals being more toxic is clearly observed for both fish and invertebrates but not for algae. EnviroTox is the first approach to establishing a high-level consensus across 4 computationally and structurally distinct MOA classification schemes. This consensus MOA classification provides both a transparent understanding of the variation between MOA classification schemes and an added certainty of the MOA assignment. In terms of regulatory relevance, a reliable understanding of MOA can provide information that can be useful for the prioritization (ranking) and risk assessment of chemicals. Environ Toxicol Chem 2019;38:2294–2304.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Pages (from-to)2294-2304
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • aquatic toxicity, classifications, ecological risk assessment, EnviroTox database, Mode of action

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