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In silico toxicology: simulating interaction thresholds for human exposure to mixtures of trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, and 1,1,1-trichloroethane.

In this study, we integrated our understanding of biochemistry, physiology, and metabolism of three commonly used organic solvents with computer simulation to present a new approach that we call "in silico" toxicology. Thus, we developed an interactive physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model to predict the individual kinetics of trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PERC), and methylchloroform (MC) in humans exposed to differently constituted chemical mixtures of the three solvents. Model structure and parameterization originate from the literature. We calibrated the single-compound PBPK models using published data and described metabolic interactions within the chemical mixture using kinetic constants estimated in rats. The mixture model was used to explore the general pharmacokinetic profile of two common biomarkers of exposure, peak TCE blood levels and total amount of TCE metabolites generated, in rats and humans. Assuming that a 10% change in the biomarkers corresponds to a significant health effect, we calculated interaction thresholds for binary and ternary mixtures of TCE, PERC, and MC. Increases in the TCE blood levels led to higher availability of the parent compound for glutathione conjugation, a metabolic pathway associated with kidney toxicity/carcinogenicity. The simulated change in production rates of toxic conjugative metabolites exceeded 17% for a corresponding 10% increase in TCE blood concentration, indicating a nonlinear risk increase due to combined exposures to TCE. Evaluation of metabolic interactions and their thresholds illustrates a unique application of PBPK modeling in risk assessment of occupational exposures to chemical mixtures.