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OECD Series on Adverse Outcome Pathways

An Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) describes a logical sequence of causally linked events at different levels of biological organisation, which follows exposure to a chemical and leads to an adverse health effect in humans or wildlife. AOPs are the central element of a toxicological knowledge framework, promoted by member countries through OECD, built to support chemical risk assessment based on mechanistic reasoning. These AOPs are available in the AOP Wiki, an interactive and virtual encyclopaedia for AOP development. Following their development and review, the endorsed AOPs are published the OECD Series on Adverse Outcome Pathways. As scientific knowledge progresses, the publication of an AOP in this series does not preclude the regular update or new contributions to a given AOP in the AOP Wiki. While the AOP Wiki is a dynamic tool, only impactful changes to the AOP will be reflected in subsequent updates of the published AOP. The number 1 in the OECD Series on Adverse Outcome Pathways is the Users’ Handbook, which is a supplement to the Guidance Document for developing and assessing AOPs. This handbook contains an updated template for AOP development and provides focused and practical instructions for both AOP developers and reviewers.

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Adverse Outcome Pathway on binding to the picrotoxin site of ionotropic GABA receptors leading to epileptic seizures in adult brain

This AOP begins with the interaction of chemicals to the picrotoxin binding site of the ionotropic GABA receptor complex causing blockage of the ion channel. As a result, decrease in inward chloride conductance occurs, followed by a reduction in postsynaptic inhibition, reflected as reduced frequency and amplitude of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic current or abolishment of GABA-induced firing action. Consequently, the resistance of excitatory neurons to fire is decreased, resulting in the generation of a large excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) that causes voltage-gated Na+ to open, which results in action potentials. The depolarisation is followed by a period of hyper-polarisation mediated by Ca2+-dependent K+ channels or GABA-activated Cl influx, which becomes smaller, gradually disappears, and is replaced by a depolarisation known as “paroxysmal depolarizing shift” (PDS). A PDS is an indication of epilepsy at the cellular level and initiates the adverse outcome at the organismal level of epileptic seizure.

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