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DevToxNomenclature: Background

As a result of the Berlin Workshops, the “DevTox database” was established and this has proved to be useful as a means of promoting harmonization and standardization of nomenclature and descriptive terms and as a research tool for the purposes of classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals.

The use of a harmonized and internationally accepted nomenclature is a basic requirement for the operation of a data base like DevTox. Only if the same terminology is used in all studies, a comparison of data across different experiments is possible. A first approach of establishing such a harmonized terminology was made in 1997 by a publication of the International Federation of Teratology Societies IFTS (Teratology 55, 249-292, 1997). Initiated by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the Free University of Berlin in 1995, a series of Workshops on the Terminology in Developmental Toxicology took place since then in Berlin with the goal to eliminate ambiguities and inconsistencies within the IFTS terminology and to establish working definitions for the two classification categories "malformation" and "variation".

The results of all these activities were used to establish the lexicon of the DevTox data base. Adaptations for a better use in computerized systems were made by clearly dividing a diagnosis into a localization term and an observation term and by eliminating all topographical descriptions from the observation term. Furthermore, a hierarchical structure for the localizations was added.

From the information stored in the lexicon of the DevTox data base and from images and data provided by the project partners, the Web-based DevTox Nomenclature information system, called "DevTox.nom", has been created. The easy-to-use Web interface allows different views of the nomenclature, images and data and a quick navigation throughout the complete site. DevTox.nom currently consists of more than 2.500 images, showing examples of external, skeletal, soft tissue and maternal-fetal anomalies in rats, mice, rabbits, hamsters, primates, guinea pigs, minipigs, dogs and birds.

New topics covered by the system are specific aspects in relation to avian skeletons and postnatal development of the skeletal system in mammals. For a better understanding of these specific aspects, see:

In addition, the Web site provides short descriptions of each finding and in some cases synonyms and further diagnostic notes. All users are actively invited to contribute to this site by submitting additional images.

Most images were contributed by Brigitte Woelffel.
The images of postnatal anomalies in the rat were taken by the Ph.D. candidate Alice Walter. The title of her thesis is: "Untersuchung von pränatal induzierten Effekten durch die klassische teratogene Substanz 5-fluoro-desoxyuridine (FDUR) auf das Skelettsystem hinsichtlich ihrer postnatalen Persistenz bei Ratten."
The supervisor of both is Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Chahoud, Institute of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Charité Berlin.

After successful completion of the update, the Web site was re-launched in October 2012 to form the basis of a scientific discussion of new findings. A total of 1742 observations is available, of which 911 were introduced and 831 renamed. [66 old observations were deleted.] 691 images were added to the database. Based on the new images, a list of findings still not yet covered by the new terminology was compiled. Critical findings were identified and examples will be presented. None of the new terms have been classified yet as malformations or variations. Most of the observations in the newly introduced species are covered by the terminology, but some structures (e.g. furcula, carpometacarpus, tarsometatarsus) were identified specific for some of these species.

The Web site under the new terminology covers new findings and is capable of reflecting most findings in new species as well as findings observed during early postnatal development. Locations in the new species not yet covered by terminology will be considered at the next update which should focus on finding in primates. As a next step, new findings should be classified as malformations, variations, or grey zone anomalies.

A new survey on the classification of fetal observations, using Version 2 terminology and with special emphasis on non-routinely used species is ongoing. The outcome of this survey should provide a basis for the next update of the terminology glossary and clarify the effectiveness of more precise descriptive terms in reducing the number of grey zone anomalies.

Please see also the page "Technical information" for browser requirements.

 Last update: 25-Sep-2012 | Contact: DevTox@bfr.bund.de Top of page