Project Details Glossary of Terms in Molecular Toxicology

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 May 2017
End Date:
29 May 2020


In the final stages of assembling the Consolidated Glossary of Terms in Toxicology to be published by the RSC (IUPAC project 2013-006-1-700), we identified a gap in terms relating to molecular aspects of toxicology that are taking an increasingly important role in our understanding of chemical mechanisms. These include terms relating to mechanisms and intermediates in various forms of cell death such as apoptosis, autophagy and anoikis; terms related to oxidative stress and defenses against it; endoplasmic reticulum stress and toxicity of misfolded proteins; enzymes and activated intermediates involved in drug and xenobiotic metabolism; and macromolecular turnover through lysosomal and proteasomal mechanisms. We anticipate producing definitions for about 500-800 new terms.


Toxicology is the study of the actual or potential harmful effects of substances on living organisms and ecosystems. It is important that IUPAC be seen to be taking a lead in understanding and interpreting the toxicity of substances. We are not only ideally situated to do so, but also have an obligation, if we are to promote chemistry as a means to meet world needs, of dispelling the common view held by many (and not always just the lay public) that “chemical” substances are generally harmful.

The proposed members of the Task Group have been involved in producing several IUPAC Glossaries of terminology in toxicology for chemists that have been published in Pure Appl. Chem. as IUPAC Recommendations. The project initially focused on general toxicology and was updated (PAC 79:1153, 2007) and incorporated terminology in toxicokinetics (PAC 76:1033, 2004). It then expanded to include terms in ecotoxicology (PAC 81:829, 2009), immunotoxicology (PAC 84:1113, 2012), neurotoxicology (PAC 87:841, 2015) and developmental and reproductive toxicology (PAC 88:713, 2016). These works have recently been collected and significantly expanded under IUPAC Project 2013-006-1-700 into a compendium of about 5500 terms currently being published by the RSC that will also generate some revenue for IUPAC. It will also be included on the U.S. National Library of Medicine website, noted as an IUPAC recommendation.

We propose to add about 500-800 new terms in molecular chemical toxicology to the existing compendium of terms, which will first be published in PAC, and then incorporated into the consolidated list.


July 2020 – Book published by RSC; (Print ISBN 978-1-78801-771-8)

This glossary expands upon the Comprehensive Glossary of Terms Used in Toxicology. Like its predecessor, it addresses the need for harmonized toxicology terminology, and has undergone a full, comprehensive and rigorous review by IUPAC Committees. It serves as the reference glossary for students and researchers studying the chemical and molecular biological bases of toxicology, and for those involved in chemicals legislation, regulation and risk assessment. Toxicology uses terminology from many disciplines that have been revolutionized by recent developments in molecular biology and biochemistry, and this glossary provides a compilation of definitions of molecular entities that impact on toxicology. Extensive Notes are included to provide context for many of the proteins and important genes defined, with disambiguation where entities are referred to by different names in the literature. We hope that this will be helpful to students and professionals alike.

project completed

Jan 2021 – Book overview published  in Chemistry International, vol. 43, no. 1, 2021, pp. 40-41.

Page last updated 22 Jan 2021