Harmonization of rat fetal external and visceral terminology and classification. Report of the Fourth Workshop on the Terminology in Developmental Toxicology, Berlin, 18-20 April 2002

Solecki, R.; Bergmann, B.; Burgin, H.; Buschmann, J.; Clark, R.; Druga, A.; Duijnhoven, E.A. van; Duverger, M.; Edwards, J.; Freudenberger, H.; Guittin, P.; Hakaite, P.; Heinrich-Hirsch, B.; Hellwig, J.; Hofmann, T.; Hubel, U.; Khalil, S.; Klaus, A.; Kudicke, S.; Lingk, W.; Meredith, T.; Moxon, M.; Muller, S.; Paul, M.; Paumgartten, F.; Rohrdanz, E.; Pfeil, R.; Rauch-Ernst, M.; Seed, J.; Spezia, F.; Vickers, C.; Woelffel, B.; Chahoud, I.

This article is a report on the Fourth Berlin Workshop on Terminology in Developmental Toxicology, which was held in April 2002. The workshop is part of an international project in the field of harmonization of terminology in developmental toxicology supported by IPCS. The goal of the Harmonization Project is to ensure better chemical risk assessment. The aim of this Fourth Workshop was to discuss the results of a previously conducted survey on classification of external and visceral anomalies, which are listed in the international glossary, developed under the auspices of IFTS (1997 glossary). The discussions among experts from research institutions, regulatory agencies, and industries were mainly focussed on terms for which there was disagreement and/or uncertainties and the possible reasons. For the illustration of "gray-zone" anomalies, pictures were provided by the participants, which constituted the basis for detailed discussions.There was high agreement that most of the external anomalies (>66%) should be classified as malformations. The few external anomalies for which there was low agreement to classify as a malformation were discussed in detail. None of the external findings, which had in the survey a high agreement, were categorized as a variation.A high agreement regarding the classification of approximately one-third of visceral anomalies was achieved with 34 and 2% being described as malformation and variation, respectively. Most of the visceral findings had low agreement indices and there appeared to be several reasons for this. Thus, the response, 'Not known/not used in the laboratory' (N) was often given. A couple of reasons for difficulties in the classification of an anomaly were that it is only rarely seen upon fetal examination or tends to be species specific. Furthermore, the classification of some anomalies as malformation or variation will remain vague as the decision must be made on a case-by-case basis. Factors affecting the decision include: the availability of appropriate historical control data, description of the grading and severity, whether the anomaly occurs in isolation or whether there is a relationship with an abnormal process, and finally, if the change represents an irreversible one, affecting human and/or animal health. It was concluded that a severity grading, supported by pictures of the anomaly, would be especially helpful to classify certain changes as malformation or as variation. Several of the soft tissue changes were considered likely to be the consequence of functional disorders and thus not strictly developmental anomalies. The possibility to describe a finding as 'Not Malformation' (Unclassified) was agreed upon. As a general conclusion it was emphasized that the observation of a permanent structural change should be considered to be a warning of possible consequences to humans, even when there is no apparent adverse effect on health and survival in adult animals of the species under investigation. Therefore, research is needed to further investigate postnatal consequences. Future collaboration in the field of reproductive and developmental toxicology should aim to further develop and implement a harmonized approach to the interpretation of study data. Therefore, this terminology work will continue in close cooperation with the IPCS Harmonization Project. A Steering Group should be established to facilitate the implementation of harmonized terminology into daily scientific work and its regulatory application



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Solecki, R. / Bergmann, B. / Burgin, H. / et al: Harmonization of rat fetal external and visceral terminology and classification. Report of the Fourth Workshop on the Terminology in Developmental Toxicology, Berlin, 18-20 April 2002. 2003.


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