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SAR QSAR Environ Res. 2002 Mar;13(2):307-23.

Probabilistic assessment of biodegradability based on metabolic pathways: catabol system.

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  • 1Procter and Gamble Eurocor, Strombeek-Bever, Belgium.


A novel mechanistic modeling approach has been developed that assesses chemical biodegradability in a quantitative manner. It is an expert system predicting biotransformation pathway working together with a probabilistic model that calculates probabilities of the individual transformations. The expert system contains a library of hierarchically ordered individual transformations and matching substructure engine. The hierarchy in the expert system was set according to the descending order of the individual transformation probabilities. The integrated principal catabolic steps are derived from set of metabolic pathways predicted for each chemical from the training set and encompass more than one real biodegradation step to improve the speed of predictions. In the current work, we modeled O2 yield during OECD 302 C (MITI I) test. MITI-I database of 532 chemicals was used as a training set. To make biodegradability predictions, the model only needs structure of a chemical. The output is given as percentage of theoretical biological oxygen demand (BOD). The model allows for identifying potentially persistent catabolic intermediates and their molar amounts. The data in the training set agreed well with the calculated BODs (r2 = 0.90) in the entire range i.e. a good fit was observed for readily, intermediate and difficult to degrade chemicals. After introducing 60% ThOD as a cut off value the model predicted correctly 98% ready biodegradable structures and 96% not ready biodegradable structures. Crossvalidation by four times leaving 25% of data resulted in Q2 = 0.88 between observed and predicted values. Presented approach and obtained results were used to develop computer software for biodegradability prediction CATABOL.

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