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Physiologically based mathematical models of nanomaterials for regulatory toxicology: a review


The development of physiologically based (PB) models to support safety assessments in the field of nanotechnology has grown steadily during the last decade. This review reports on the availability of PB models for toxicokinetic (TK) and toxicodynamic (TD) processes, including in vitro and in vivo dosimetry models applied to manufactured nanomaterials (MNs). In addition to reporting on the state-of-the-art in the scientific literature concerning the availability of physiologically based kinetic (PBK) models, we evaluate their relevance for regulatory applications, mainly considering the EU REACH regulation. First, we performed a literature search to identify all available PBK models. Then, we systematically reported the content of the identified papers in a tailored template to build a consistent inventory, thereby supporting model comparison. We also described model availability for physiologically based dynamic (PBD) and in vitro and in vivo dosimetry models according to the same template. For completeness, a number of classical toxicokinetic (CTK) models were also included in the inventory. The review describes the PBK model landscape applied to MNs on the basis of the type of MNs covered by the models, their stated applicability domain, the type of (nano-specific) inputs required, and the type of outputs generated. We identify the main assumptions made during model development that may influence the uncertainty in the final assessment, and we assess the REACH relevance of the available models within each model category. Finally, we compare the state of PB model acceptance for chemicals and for MNs. In general, PB model acceptance is limited by the absence of standardised reporting formats, psychological factors such as the complexity of the models, and technical considerations such as lack of blood:tissue partitioning data for model calibration/validation.