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Chem Res Toxicol. 2008 Dec;21(12):2229-36. doi: 10.1021/tx800252e.

Promises and pitfalls of quantitative structure-activity relationship approaches for predicting metabolism and toxicity.

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  • 1Division of Toxicology, Wageningen University, Tuinlaan 5, 6703 HE Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Abstract

The description of quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) models has been a topic for scientific research for more than 40 years and a topic within the regulatory framework for more than 20 years. At present, efforts on QSAR development are increasing because of their promise for supporting reduction, refinement, and/or replacement of animal toxicity experiments. However, their acceptance in risk assessment seems to require a more standardized and scientific underpinning of QSAR technology to avoid possible pitfalls. For this reason, guidelines for QSAR model development recently proposed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (2007) Guidance document on the validation of (quantitative) structure-activity relationships [(Q)SAR] models. OECD Environment Health and Safety Publications: Series on Testing and Assessment No. 69, Paris] are expected to help increase the acceptability of QSAR models for regulatory purposes. The guidelines recommend that QSAR models should be associated with (i) a defined end point, (ii) an unambiguous algorithm, (iii) a defined domain of applicability, (iv) appropriate measures of goodness-of-fit, robustness, and predictivity, and (v) a mechanistic interpretation, if possible [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (2007) Guidance document on the validation of (quantitative) structure-activity relationships [(Q)SAR] models. The present perspective provides an overview of these guidelines for QSAR model development and their rationale, as well as the promises and pitfalls of using QSAR approaches and these guidelines for predicting metabolism and toxicity of new and existing chemicals.

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