Development of the nervous system is a complex process that is critically important for normal function and it is vulnerable to both endogenous and exogenous factors. There is increasing awareness among scientists and regulators that neurodevelopment is a critical window of susceptibility for childhood and adult-onset diseases. A growing concern among the general public is that exposures to some environmental factors, dietary components or consumer products may contribute to neurodevelopmental decrements. Novel experimental approaches and scientific concepts are being developed to address the need for more informative and comprehensive testing for the potential developmental neurotoxicity effects of chemicals.
The colloquium will begin with an overview of neurodevelopment and discuss the current state-of-the-art in developmental neurotoxicity assessment. Second, advances in the use of whole-animal alternative models, such as zebrafish, in evaluating developmental neurotoxicity will be discussed. Third, an overview of in vitro alternative models and screening batteries to assess developmental neurotoxicity will be presented. Fourth, the framework of adverse outcome pathways will be used to demonstrate the utility of novel data streams from alternative species and in vitro assays to improve mechanistic understanding of how chemicals elicit developmental neurotoxicity. Finally, the colloquium will conclude with a panel discussion addressing the key issues brought up by the speakers and questions from participants.