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  • Introduction to Toxicology

    • Different Areas of Toxicology

    • Toxicology and Society

    • General Characteristics of the Toxic Response

  • Classification of Toxic Agents

  • Spectrum of Undesired Effects

    • Allergic Reactions

    • Idiosyncratic Reactions

    • Immediate versus Delayed Toxicity

    • Reversible versus Irreversible Toxic Effects

    • Local versus Systemic Toxicity

    • Interaction of Chemicals

    • Tolerance

  • Characteristics of Exposure

    • Route and Site of Exposure

    • Duration and Frequency of Exposure

  • Dose–Response Relationship

    • Individual, or Graded, Dose–Response Relationships

    • Quantal Dose–Response Relationships

    • Shape of the Dose–Response Curve

      • Essential Nutrients

      • Hormesis

      • Threshold

      • Nonmonotonic Dose–Response Curves

    • Assumptions in Deriving the Dose–Response Relationship

    • Evaluating the Dose–Response Relationship

      • Comparison of Dose Responses

      • Therapeutic Index

      • Margins of Safety and Exposure

      • Potency versus Efficacy

  • Variation in Toxic Responses

    • Selective Toxicity

    • Species Differences

    • Individual Differences in Response

  • Descriptive Animal Toxicity Tests

    • Acute Toxicity Testing

    • Skin and Eye Irritations

    • Sensitization

    • Subacute (Repeated-Dose Study)

    • Subchronic

    • Chronic

    • Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity

    • Mutagenicity

    • Oncogenicity Bioassays

    • Neurotoxicity Assessment

    • Immunotoxicity Assessment

    • Other Descriptive Toxicity Tests

  • Toxicogenomics

    • Genomics

    • Epigenetics/Epigenomics

    • Transcriptomics

    • Proteomics

    • Metabonomics/Metabolomics

    • Bioinformatics

    • Challenges in Using “Omics” Technologies for Predictive Toxicology and Risk Assessment

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Introduction to Toxicology

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Toxicology is the study of the adverse effects of chemical or physical agents on living organisms. A toxicologist is trained to examine and communicate the nature of those effects on human, animal, and environmental health. Toxicological research examines the cellular, biochemical, and molecular mechanisms of action as well as functional effects such as neurobehavioral and immunological, and assesses the probability of their occurrence. Fundamental to this process is characterizing the relation of exposure (or dose) to the response. Risk assessment is the quantitative estimate of the potential effects on human health and environmental significance of various types of chemical exposures (eg, pesticide residues in food, contaminants in drinking water). The variety of potential adverse effects and the diversity of chemicals in the environment make toxicology a broad science, which often demands specialization in one area of toxicology. Our society’s dependence on chemicals and the need to assess potential hazards have made toxicologists an increasingly important part of the decision-making processes.

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Different Areas of Toxicology

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The professional activities of toxicologists fall into 3 main categories: descriptive, mechanistic, and regulatory (Fig. 2-1). Although each has distinctive characteristics, each contributes to the other, and all are vitally important to chemical risk assessment (see Chap. 4).

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Figure 2-1.

Graphical representation of the interconnections between different areas of toxicology.

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A mechanistic toxicologist is concerned with identifying and understanding the cellular, biochemical, and molecular mechanisms by which chemicals exert toxic effects on living organisms (see Chap. 3 for a detailed discussion of mechanisms of toxicity). The results of mechanistic studies are very important in many areas of applied toxicology. In risk assessment, mechanistic data may be very useful in demonstrating that an adverse outcome (eg, cancer, birth defects) observed in laboratory animals is directly relevant to humans. For example, ...

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