Towards less hazardous industrial compounds: coupling quantum mechanical computations, biomarker responses and behavioral profiles identify bioactivity of SN2 electrophiles in alternative vertebrate models


Abstract Image

Sustainable molecular design of less hazardous chemicals promises to reduce risks to public health and the environment. Computational chemistry modeling coupled with alternative toxicology models (e.g., larval fish) present unique high-throughput opportunities to understand structural characteristics eliciting adverse outcomes. Numerous environmental contaminants with reactive properties can elicit oxidative stress, an important toxicological response associated with diverse adverse outcomes (i.e., cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, etc.). We examined a common chemical mechanism (bimolecular nucleophilic substitution (SN2)) associated with oxidative stress using property-based computational modeling coupled with acute (mortality) and sublethal (glutathione, photomotor behavior) responses in the zebrafish (Danio rerio) and the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) models to identify whether relationships exist among biological responses and molecular attributes of industrial chemicals. Following standardized methods, embryonic zebrafish and larval fathead minnows were exposed separately to eight different SN2 compounds for 96 h. Acute and sublethal responses were compared to computationally derived in silico chemical descriptors. Specifically, frontier molecular orbital energies were significantly related to acute LC50 values and photomotor response (PMR) no observed effect concentrations (NOECs) in both fathead minnow and zebrafish. This reactivity index, LC50 values, and PMR NOECs were also significantly related to whole body glutathione (GSH) levels, suggesting that acute and chronic toxicity results from protein adduct formation for SN2 electrophiles. Shared refractory locomotor response patterns among study compounds and two alternative vertebrate models appear informative of electrophilic properties associated with oxidative stress for SN2 chemicals. Electrophilic parameters derived from frontier molecular orbitals were predictive of experimental in vivo acute and sublethal toxicity. These observations provide important implications for identifying and designing less hazardous industrial chemicals with reduced potential to elicit oxidative stress through bimolecular nucleophilic substitution.


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