In silico tools in risk assessment : of industrial chemicals in general and non-dioxin-like PCBs in particular

Sammanfattning: Industrial chemicals in European Union produced or imported in volumes above 1 tonne annually, necessitate a registration within REACH. A common problem, concerning these chemicals, is deficient information and lack of data for assessing the hazards posed to human health and the environment. Animal studies for the type of toxicological information needed are both expensive and time consuming, and to that an ethical aspect is added. Alternative methods to animal testing are thereby requested. REACH have called for an increased use of in silico tools for non-testing data as structure-activity relationships (SARs), quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSARs), and read-across. The main objective of the studies underlying this thesis is related to explore and refine the use of in silico tools in a risk assessment context of industrial chemicals. In particular, try to relate properties of the molecular structure to the toxic effect of the chemical substance, by using principles and methods of computational chemistry. The initial study was a survey of all industrial chemicals; the Industrial chemical map was created. A part of this map was identified including chemicals of potential concern. Secondly, the environmental pollutants, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were examined and in particular the non-dioxin-like PCBs (NDL-PCBs). A set of 20 NDL-PCBs was selected to represent the 178 PCB congeners with three to seven chlorine substituents. The selection procedure was a combined process including statistical molecular design for a representative selection and expert judgements to be able to include congeners of specific interest. The 20 selected congeners were tested in vitro in as much as 17 different assays. The data from the screening process was turned into interpretable toxicity profiles with multivariate methods, used for investigation of potential classes of NDL-PCBs. It was shown that NDL-PCBs cannot be treated as one group of substances with similar mechanisms of action. Two groups of congeners were identified. A group including in general lower chlorinated congeners with a higher degree of ortho substitution showed a higher potency in more assays (including all neurotoxic assays). A second group included abundant congeners with a similar toxic profile that might contribute to a common toxic burden. To investigate the structure-activity pattern of PCBs effect on DAT in rat striatal synaptosomes, ten additional congeners were selected and tested in vitro. NDL-PCBs were shown to be potent inhibitors of DAT binding. The congeners with highest DAT inhibiting potency were tetra- and penta-chlorinated with 2-3 chlorine atoms in ortho-position. The model was not able to distinguish the congeners with activities in the lower μM range, which could be explained by a relatively unspecific response for the lower ortho chlorinated PCBs.