Exploring the Potential of ToxCast Data in Supporting Read-Across for Evaluation of Food Chemical Safety

Chem Res Toxicol. 2021 Feb 15;34(2):300-312. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.0c00240. Epub 2020 Nov 30.


The intention of this study was to determine the utility of high-throughput screening (HTS) data, as exemplified by ToxCast and Tox21, for application in toxicological read-across in food-relevant chemicals. Key questions were addressed on the extent to which the HTS data could provide information enabling (1) the elucidation of underlying bioactivities associated with apical toxicological outcomes, (2) the closing of existing toxicological data gaps, and (3) the definition of the boundaries of chemical space across which bioactivity could reliably be extrapolated. Results revealed that many biological targets apparently activated within the chemical groupings lack, at this time, validated toxicity pathway associations. Therefore, as means of providing proof-of-principle, a comparatively well-characterized end point-estrogenicity-was selected for evaluation. This was facilitated through the preparation of two exploratory case studies, focusing upon groupings of paraben-gallates and pyranone-type compounds (notably flavonoids). Within both, the HTS data were seen to reflect estrogenic potencies in a manner which broadly corresponded to established structure-activity group relationships, with parabens and flavonoids displaying greater estrogen receptor affinity than benzoate esters and alternative pyranone-containing molecules, respectively. As such, utility in the identification of out-of-domain compounds was demonstrated, indicating potential for application in addressing point (3) as detailed above.

MeSH terms

  • Flavonoids / adverse effects*
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Pyrans / adverse effects*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Toxicity Tests*


  • Flavonoids
  • Pyrans