Cell Biology and Toxicology

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 1–13 | Cite as

Prediction of toxicity from chemical structure

  • M.D. Barratt


The basis for the prediction of toxicity from chemical structure is that the properties of a chemical are implicit in its molecular structure. Biological activity can be expressed as a function of partition and reactivity, that is, for a chemical to be able to express its toxicity, it must be transported from its site of administration to its site of action and then it must bind to or react with its receptor or target. This process may also involve metabolic transformation of the chemical. The application of these principles to the prediction of the toxicity of new or untested chemicals has been achieved in a number of different ways covering a wide range of complexity, from computer systems containing databases of hundreds of chemicals, to simple "reading across" between chemicals with similar chemical/toxicological functionality. The common feature of the approaches described in this article is that their starting point is a mechanistic hypothesis linking chemical structure and/or functionality with the toxicological endpoint of interest. The prediction of toxicity from chemical structure can make a valuable contribution to the reduction of animal usage in the screening out of potentially toxic chemicals at an early stage and in providing data for making positive classifications of toxicity.

structure–activity relationship skin sensitization skin corrosivity eye irritation reading across 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

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  • M.D. Barratt

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