An ecotoxicological view on neurotoxicity assessment

J. B. Legradi*, C. Di Paolo, M. H.S. Kraak, H. G. van der Geest, E. L. Schymanski, A. J. Williams, M. M.L. Dingemans, R. Massei, W. Brack, X. Cousin, M. L. Begout, R. van der Oost, A. Carion, V. Suarez-Ulloa, F. Silvestre, B. I. Escher, M. Engwall, G. Nilén, S. H. Keiter, D. PolletP. Waldmann, C. Kienle, I. Werner, A. C. Haigis, D. Knapen, L. Vergauwen, M. Spehr, W. Schulz, W. Busch, D. Leuthold, S. Scholz, C. M. vom Berg, N. Basu, C. A. Murphy, A. Lampert, J. Kuckelkorn, T. Grummt, H. Hollert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


The numbers of potential neurotoxicants in the environment are raising and pose a great risk for humans and the environment. Currently neurotoxicity assessment is mostly performed to predict and prevent harm to human populations. Despite all the efforts invested in the last years in developing novel in vitro or in silico test systems, in vivo tests with rodents are still the only accepted test for neurotoxicity risk assessment in Europe. Despite an increasing number of reports of species showing altered behaviour, neurotoxicity assessment for species in the environment is not required and therefore mostly not performed. Considering the increasing numbers of environmental contaminants with potential neurotoxic potential, eco-neurotoxicity should be also considered in risk assessment. In order to do so novel test systems are needed that can cope with species differences within ecosystems. In the field, online-biomonitoring systems using behavioural information could be used to detect neurotoxic effects and effect-directed analyses could be applied to identify the neurotoxicants causing the effect. Additionally, toxic pressure calculations in combination with mixture modelling could use environmental chemical monitoring data to predict adverse effects and prioritize pollutants for laboratory testing. Cheminformatics based on computational toxicological data from in vitro and in vivo studies could help to identify potential neurotoxicants. An array of in vitro assays covering different modes of action could be applied to screen compounds for neurotoxicity. The selection of in vitro assays could be guided by AOPs relevant for eco-neurotoxicity. In order to be able to perform risk assessment for eco-neurotoxicity, methods need to focus on the most sensitive species in an ecosystem. A test battery using species from different trophic levels might be the best approach. To implement eco-neurotoxicity assessment into European risk assessment, cheminformatics and in vitro screening tests could be used as first approach to identify eco-neurotoxic pollutants. In a second step, a small species test battery could be applied to assess the risks of ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number46
Pages (from-to)1-34
Number of pages34
JournalEnvironmental Sciences Europe
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2018


We thank the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) founded project NeuroBox and the Norman Network (http://www.norman‑netwo for funding this study. Additionally, this work was conducted within the framework of the Joint Research Program of the Dutch Water companies (BTO2018‑2023) and the SOLUTIONS project (European Union’s Seventh Framework Program for research, technological development and demonstra‑ tion under Grant Agreement No. 603437). Henner Hollert is Editor‑in‑Chief of this Journal.

FundersFunder number
European Union’s Seventh Framework Program for research
NORMAN networkBTO2018‑2023
Seventh Framework Programme603437
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung02WRS1419


    • AOP
    • Behaviour
    • Computational toxicity
    • Eco-neurotoxicity
    • Ecological
    • EDA
    • Neurotoxicity
    • REACH
    • Species


    Dive into the research topics of 'An ecotoxicological view on neurotoxicity assessment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this