Neurotoxicity may be defined as any adverse effect on the structure or function of the central and/or peripheral nervous system by a biological, chemical, or physical agent. Adverse effects can include both unwanted effects and any alteration from baseline that diminishes the ability of an organism to survive, reproduce or adapt to its environment. Neurotoxic effects may be permanent or reversible, and may result from direct or indirect actions on the nervous system. A multidisciplinary approach is necessary to assess neurotoxicity due to the complex and diverse functions of the nervous system. Many of the relevant effects can be measured by neurobiological, neurophysiological, neuropathological or behavioral techniques, as well as epidemiological approaches. After a general overview of neurotoxicity assessment from genes to human response, this basic course will present in greater depth the methods used to study populations, individual animals, cells, and genomes. Each speaker will review the basic concepts underlying the methodological approach presented. Selected neurotoxicants, including heavy metals, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and drugs of abuse, will be used to illustrate principles. The first two lectures will address neurotoxic effects as studied by epidemiology in human populations and behavioral assessment in animal models, respectively. The next lecture will address the cellular responses of neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes to neurotoxicants. The course will be concluded with a description of a molecular approach to neurotoxicology including genomics. This course will be of interest to a broad range of scientists including drug developers, pharmacologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, regulators, and toxicologists.
The Toxicologist. Society of Toxicology 43nd Annual Meeting and ToxExpo, March 21-25, 2004, Baltimore, Maryland