Project Details Glossary of Terms in Molecular Toxicology

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 May 2017
End Date:
Division Name:
Chemistry and Human Health Division
Division No.:


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.


Page last updated 26 Apr 2017