Roland Buesen, Uwe Oberholz, Ursula G. Sauer and Robert Landsiedel
Acute oral toxicity is determined for regulatory hazard classification or non-classification. The European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM) recommends the following modules for acute oral toxicity testing: a) the use of the in vitro 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake (NRU) test to identify substances not requiring classification and to estimate starting doses for in vivo acute oral toxicity studies; and b) the use of data from sub-acute toxicity studies to identify substances not requiring classification. However, the application of these modules in a regulatory context would require a predefined, validated and formally accepted testing strategy and data interpretation procedure, which are not available. Furthermore, the application of the 3T3 NRU assay for starting dose estimations could in fact increase the number of animals used. Finally, only very few substances exist for which data from sub-acute or other repeated dose studies are available, but data from acute studies are not. Therefore, in practice, the prediction of acute toxicity by using sub-acute toxicity data is generally irrelevant. It could even lead to a risk of overdosing in the range-finding study, which may result in the death of many or all of the animals used.