Review of alternatives to the use of vertebrate animals in ecotoxicity testing

The JRC's EU Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing will include the use of QSARs, fish embryos and fish cell cultures for fish toxicity testing,

Source: EU SCIENCE HUB - The European Commission's science and knowledge service

The JRC's EU Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM) has contributed to a recently published overview of different approaches that are now available for ecotoxicologists and risk assessors to evaluate potentially hazardous chemicals and minimize the use of vertebrates in ecotoxicity tests.

Members of the SETAC* Global Animal Alternatives Advisory Group, including a JRC scientist, summarise in their article the regulatory requirements and underline that these differ between regions and depend on the intended use of a chemical (e.g. pharmaceutical, industrial chemical, agrochemicals, biocides, feed additives).

Approaches already in place or under development which could replace, reduce or refine animal tests are briefly described and address specific toxicological endpoints; e.g. fish toxicity, bioaccumulation, avian toxicity, endocrine activity, and effluent testing. Examples include the use of QSARs, fish embryos and fish cell cultures for fish toxicity testing, the development of the ecological threshold for toxicological concern concept, tiered strategies for bioaccumulation testing, use of transgenic fish and amphibian embryos for endocrine disruption assessment, evaluation of existing data to waive testing requirements, and informed testing concepts (inc. mode-of-action and adverse outcome pathway reasoning).

Moreover, the authors underline that better harmonisation and mutual acceptance of data across different global regions could lead to a substantial reduction in the number of animals used in regulatory ecotoxicity testing and refer to the OECD test guidelines as an important tool. They highlight that replacement, reduction and refinement of animal tests should always be seen in the context of their reliability, relevance and regulatory acceptance.

 * SETAC = Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

Read more (see also the attached file) in: Lillicrap et al (2016) "Alternative Approaches to Vertebrate Ecotoxicity Tests in the 21st Century: A Review of Developments Over the Last 2 Decades and Current Status", Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 35, 2637-2646, doi: 10.1002/etc.3603


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