AskDefine | Define toxicology

Dictionary Definition

toxicology n : the branch of pharmacology that deals with the nature and effects and treatments of poisons

User Contributed Dictionary



From toxicologie < sc=Grek < τοξικός + λόγος.


  1. In the context of "sciences|pharmacology": The branch of pharmacology that deals with the nature, effect, detection and treatment of poisons and poisoning.


scientific study of poisons and poisoning

Related terms

Extensive Definition

Toxicology (from the Greek words toxicos and logos) is the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms. It is the study of symptoms, mechanisms, treatments and detection of poisoning, especially the poisoning of people.


Mathieu Orfila is considered to be the modern father of toxicology, having given the subject its first formal treatment in 1813 in his Traité des poisons, also called Toxicologie générale.
Theophrastus Phillipus Auroleus Bombastus von Hohenheim (1493 - 1541) (also referred to as Paracelsus, from his belief that his studies were above or beyond the work of Celsus - the Roman physician from the first century) is also considered "the father" of toxicology. He is credited with the classic toxicology maxim, "Alle Dinge sind Gift und nichts ist ohne Gift; allein die Dosis macht, dass ein Ding kein Gift ist." which translates as, "All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison." This is often condensed to: "The dose makes the poison".

Relationship between dose and toxicity

Toxicology is the study of the relationship between dose and its effects on the exposed organism. The chief criterion regarding the toxicity of a chemical is the dose, i.e. the amount of exposure to the substance. Almost all substances are toxic under the right conditions as Paracelsus, the father of modern toxicology said, Sola dosis facit venenum (only dose makes the poison). Paracelsus, who lived in the 16th century, was the first person to explain the dose-response relationship of toxic substances. The term LD50 refers to the dose of a toxic substance that kills 50 percent of a test population (typically rats or other surrogates when the test concerns human toxicity). LD50 estimations in animals are no longer required for regulatory submissions as a part of pre-clinical development package.

Toxicity of metabolites

Many substances regarded as poisons are toxic only indirectly. An example is "wood alcohol," or methanol, which is chemically converted to formaldehyde and formic acid in the liver. It is the formaldehyde and formic acid that cause the toxic effects of methanol exposure. Many drug molecules are made toxic in the liver, a good example being acetaminophen (paracetamol), especially in the presence of alcohol. The genetic variability of certain liver enzymes makes the toxicity of many compounds differ between one individual and the next. Because demands placed on one liver enzyme can induce activity in another, many molecules become toxic only in combination with others. A family of activities that engages many toxicologists includes identifying which liver enzymes convert a molecule into a poison, what are the toxic products of the conversion and under what conditions and in which individuals this conversion takes place.

Chemical toxicology

Chemical toxicology is a scientific discipline involving the study of structure and mechanism related to the toxic effects of chemical agents, and encompasses technology advances in research related to chemical aspects of toxicology. Research in this area is strongly multidisciplinary, spanning computational chemistry and synthetic chemistry, proteomics and metabolomics, drug discovery, drug metabolism and mechanisms of action, bioinformatics, bioanalytical chemistry, chemical biology, and molecular epidemiology.



toxicology in Arabic: علم السموم
toxicology in Bosnian: Toksikologija
toxicology in Bulgarian: Токсикология
toxicology in Catalan: Toxicologia
toxicology in Czech: Toxikologie
toxicology in Danish: Toksikologi
toxicology in German: Toxikologie
toxicology in Modern Greek (1453-): Τοξικολογία
toxicology in Spanish: Toxicología
toxicology in French: Toxicologie
toxicology in Italian: Tossicologia
toxicology in Hebrew: טוקסיקולוגיה
toxicology in Lithuanian: Toksikologija
toxicology in Dutch: Toxicologie
toxicology in Japanese: 毒性学
toxicology in Norwegian: Toksikologi
toxicology in Occitan (post 1500): Toxicologia
toxicology in Polish: Toksykologia
toxicology in Portuguese: Toxicologia
toxicology in Romanian: Toxicologie
toxicology in Russian: Токсикология
toxicology in Simple English: Toxicology
toxicology in Slovak: Toxikológia
toxicology in Serbian: Токсикологија
toxicology in Serbo-Croatian: Toksikologija
toxicology in Finnish: Toksikologia
toxicology in Swedish: Toxikologi
toxicology in Thai: พิษวิทยา
toxicology in Turkish: Toksikoloji
toxicology in Chinese: 毒理學

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

acaricide, anthelmintic, antibiotic, antiseptic, bug bomb, carbamate insecticide, chemosterilant, chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticide, contact poison, defoliant, disinfectant, eradicant, fumigant, fungicide, germicide, herbicide, insect powder, insecticide, microbicide, miticide, organic chlorine, organic phosphate insecticide, pesticide, poison, rat poison, roach paste, roach powder, rodenticide, stomach poison, systemic, systemic insecticide, toxic, toxicant, toxin, venin, venom, vermicide, virus, weed killer
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