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Event: 1262

Key Event Title

The KE title should describe a discrete biological change that can be measured. It should generally define the biological object or process being measured and whether it is increased, decreased, or otherwise definably altered relative to a control state. For example “enzyme activity, decreased”, “hormone concentration, increased”, or “growth rate, decreased”, where the specific enzyme or hormone being measured is defined. More help


Short name
The KE short name should be a reasonable abbreviation of the KE title and is used in labelling this object throughout the AOP-Wiki. The short name should be less than 80 characters in length. More help

Biological Context

Structured terms, selected from a drop-down menu, are used to identify the level of biological organization for each KE. Note, KEs should be defined within a particular level of biological organization. Only KERs should be used to transition from one level of organization to another. Selection of the level of biological organization defines which structured terms will be available to select when defining the Event Components (below). More help
Level of Biological Organization

Cell term

Further information on Event Components and Biological Context may be viewed on the attached pdf.The biological context describes the location/biological environment in which the event takes place.  For molecular/cellular events this would include the cellular context (if known), organ context, and species/life stage/sex for which the event is relevant. For tissue/organ events cellular context is not applicable.  For individual/population events, the organ context is not applicable. More help
Cell term

Organ term

Further information on Event Components and Biological Context may be viewed on the attached pdf.The biological context describes the location/biological environment in which the event takes place.  For molecular/cellular events this would include the cellular context (if known), organ context, and species/life stage/sex for which the event is relevant. For tissue/organ events cellular context is not applicable.  For individual/population events, the organ context is not applicable. More help
Organ term

Key Event Components

Further information on Event Components and Biological Context may be viewed on the attached pdf.Because one of the aims of the AOP-KB is to facilitate de facto construction of AOP networks through the use of shared KE and KER elements, authors are also asked to define their KEs using a set of structured ontology terms (Event Components). In the absence of structured terms, the same KE can readily be defined using a number of synonymous titles (read by a computer as character strings). In order to make these synonymous KEs more machine-readable, KEs should also be defined by one or more “event components” consisting of a biological process, object, and action with each term originating from one of 22 biological ontologies (Ives, et al., 2017; See List). Biological process describes dynamics of the underlying biological system (e.g., receptor signalling). The biological object is the subject of the perturbation (e.g., a specific biological receptor that is activated or inhibited). Action represents the direction of perturbation of this system (generally increased or decreased; e.g., ‘decreased’ in the case of a receptor that is inhibited to indicate a decrease in the signalling by that receptor).Note that when editing Event Components, clicking an existing Event Component from the Suggestions menu will autopopulate these fields, along with their source ID and description. To clear any fields before submitting the event component, use the 'Clear process,' 'Clear object,' or 'Clear action' buttons. If a desired term does not exist, a new term request may be made via Term Requests. Event components may not be edited; to edit an event component, remove the existing event component and create a new one using the terms that you wish to add. More help
Process Object Action
apoptotic process increased

Key Event Overview

AOPs Including This Key Event

All of the AOPs that are linked to this KE will automatically be listed in this subsection. This table can be particularly useful for derivation of AOP networks including the KE. Clicking on the name of the AOP will bring you to the individual page for that AOP. More help
AOP Name Role of event in AOP Point of Contact Author Status OECD Status
AOP on basal cytotoxicity AdverseOutcome Mathieu Vinken (send email) Open for comment. Do not cite
NADPH oxidase activation leading to reproductive failure KeyEvent Jinhee Choi (send email) Under development: Not open for comment. Do not cite
Histone deacetylase inhibition leading to testicular atrophy KeyEvent Shihori Tanabe (send email) Open for citation & comment WPHA/WNT Endorsed
Inhibition of N-linked glycosylation leads to liver injury KeyEvent Marvin Martens (send email) Under development: Not open for comment. Do not cite
AHR activation decreasing lung function via P53 tox path KeyEvent Dianke Yu (send email) Under development: Not open for comment. Do not cite
AhR activation to breast cancer related death KeyEvent Louise Benoit (send email) Under development: Not open for comment. Do not cite
PM-induced respiratory toxicity KeyEvent li qing (send email) Under development: Not open for comment. Do not cite


This is a structured field used to identify specific agents (generally chemicals) that can trigger the KE. Stressors identified in this field will be linked to the KE in a machine-readable manner, such that, for example, a stressor search would identify this as an event the stressor can trigger. NOTE: intermediate or downstream KEs in one AOP may function as MIEs in other AOPs, meaning that stressor information may be added to the KE description, even if it is a downstream KE in the pathway currently under development.Information concerning the stressors that may trigger an MIE can be defined using a combination of structured and unstructured (free-text) fields. For example, structured fields may be used to indicate specific chemicals for which there is evidence of an interaction relevant to this MIE. By linking the KE description to a structured chemical name, it will be increasingly possible to link the MIE to other sources of chemical data and information, enhancing searchability and inter-operability among different data-sources and knowledgebases. The free-text section “Evidence for perturbation of this MIE by stressor” can be used both to identify the supporting evidence for specific stressors triggering the MIE as well as to define broad chemical categories or other properties that classify the stressors able to trigger the MIE for which specific structured terms may not exist. More help

Taxonomic Applicability

Latin or common names of a species or broader taxonomic grouping (e.g., class, order, family) can be selected from an ontology. In many cases, individual species identified in these structured fields will be those for which the strongest evidence used in constructing the AOP was available in relation to this KE. More help
Term Scientific Term Evidence Link
Homo sapiens Homo sapiens High NCBI
Mus musculus Mus musculus High NCBI
Rattus norvegicus Rattus norvegicus High NCBI
Caenorhabditis elegans Caenorhabditis elegans High NCBI

Life Stages

The structured ontology terms for life-stage are more comprehensive than those for taxa, but may still require further description/development and explanation in the free text section. More help
Life stage Evidence
Not Otherwise Specified High

Sex Applicability

The authors must select from one of the following: Male, female, mixed, asexual, third gender, hermaphrodite, or unspecific. More help
Term Evidence
Unspecific High

Key Event Description

A description of the biological state being observed or measured, the biological compartment in which it is measured, and its general role in the biology should be provided. For example, the biological state being measured could be the activity of an enzyme, the expression of a gene or abundance of an mRNA transcript, the concentration of a hormone or protein, neuronal activity, heart rate, etc. The biological compartment may be a particular cell type, tissue, organ, fluid (e.g., plasma, cerebrospinal fluid), etc. The role in the biology could describe the reaction that an enzyme catalyses and the role of that reaction within a given metabolic pathway; the protein that a gene or mRNA transcript codes for and the function of that protein; the function of a hormone in a given target tissue, physiological function of an organ, etc. Careful attention should be taken to avoid reference to other KEs, KERs or AOPs. Only describe this KE as a single isolated measurable event/state. This will ensure that the KE is modular and can be used by other AOPs, thereby facilitating construction of AOP networks. More help

Apoptosis, the process of programmed cell death, is characterized by distinct morphology with DNA fragmentation and energy dependency [Elmore, 2007]. Apoptosis, also called “physiological cell death”, is involved in cell turnover, physiological involution, and atrophy of various tissues and organs [Kerr et al., 1972]. The formation of apoptotic bodies involves marked condensation of both nucleus and cytoplasm, nuclear fragmentation, and separation of protuberances [Kerr et al., 1972]. Apoptosis is characterized by DNA ladder and chromatin condensation. Several stimuli such as hypoxia, nucleotides deprivation, chemotherapeutical drugs, DNA damage, and mitotic spindle damage induce p53 activation, leading to p21 activation and cell cycle arrest [Pucci et al., 2000]. The SAHA or TSA treatment on neonatal human dermal fibroblasts (NHDFs) for 24 or 72 hrs inhibited proliferation of the NHDF cells [Glaser et al., 2003]. Considering that the acetylation of histone H4 was increased by the treatment of SAHA for 4 hrs, histone deacetylase inhibition may be involved in the inhibition of the cell proliferation [Glaser et al., 2003]. The impaired proliferation was observed in HDAC1-/- ES cells, which was rescued with the reintroduction of HDAC1 [Zupkovitz et al., 2010]. The present AOP focuses on the p21 pathway leading to apoptosis, however, alternative pathways such as NF-kappaB signaling pathways may be involved in the apoptosis of spermatocytes [Wang et al., 2017].

How It Is Measured or Detected

One of the primary considerations in evaluating AOPs is the relevance and reliability of the methods with which the KEs can be measured. The aim of this section of the KE description is not to provide detailed protocols, but rather to capture, in a sentence or two, per method, the type(s) of measurements that can be employed to evaluate the KE and the relative level of scientific confidence in those measurements. Methods that can be used to detect or measure the biological state represented in the KE should be briefly described and/or cited. These can range from citation of specific validated test guidelines, citation of specific methods published in the peer reviewed literature, or outlines of a general protocol or approach (e.g., a protein may be measured by ELISA).Key considerations regarding scientific confidence in the measurement approach include whether the assay is fit for purpose, whether it provides a direct or indirect measure of the biological state in question, whether it is repeatable and reproducible, and the extent to which it is accepted in the scientific and/or regulatory community. Information can be obtained from the OECD Test Guidelines website and the EURL ECVAM Database Service on Alternative Methods to Animal Experimentation (DB-ALM). ?

Apoptosis is characterized by many morphological and biochemical changes such as homogenous condensation of chromatin to one side or the periphery of the nuclei, membrane blebbing and formation of apoptotic bodies with fragmented nuclei, DNA fragmentation, enzymatic activation of pro-caspases, or phosphatidylserine translocation that can be measured using electron and cytochemical optical microscopy, proteomic and genomic methods, and spectroscopic techniques [Archana et al., 2013; Martinez et al., 2010; Taatjes et al., 2008; Yasuhara et al., 2003].

DNA fragmentation can be quantified with comet assay using electrophoresis, where the tail length, head size, tail intensity, and head intensity of the comet are measured [Yasuhara et al., 2003].

・The apoptosis is detected with the expression alteration of procaspases 7 and 3 by Western blotting using antibodies [Parajuli et al., 2014].

・The apoptosis is measured with down-regulation of anti-apoptotic gene baculoviral inhibitor of apoptosis protein repeat containing 2 (BIRC2, or cIAP1) [Parajuli et al., 2014].

・Apoptotic nucleosomes are detected using Cell Death Detection ELISA kit, which was calculated as absorbance subtraction at 405 nm and 490 nm [Parajuli et al., 2014].

・Cleavage of PARP is detected with Western blotting [Parajuli et al., 2014].

・Caspase-3 and caspase-9 activity is measured with the enzyme-catalyzed release of p-nitroanilide (pNA) and quantified at 405 nm [Wu et al., 2016].

・Apoptosis is measured with Annexin V-FITC probes, and the relative percentage of Annexin V-FITC-positive/PI-negative cells is analyzed by flow cytometry [Wu et al., 2016].

・Apoptosis is detected with the Terminal dUTP Nick End-Labeling (TUNEL) method to assay the endonuclease cleavage products by enzymatically end-labeling the DNA strand breaks [Kressel and Groscurth, 1994].

・For the detection of apoptosis, the testes are fixed in neutral buffered formalin and embedded in paraffin. Germ cell death is visualized in testis sections by Terminal dUTP Nick End-Labeling (TUNEL) staining method [Wade et al., 2008]. The incidence of TUNEL-positive cells is expressed as the number of positive cells per tubule examined for one entire testis section per animal [Wade et al., 2008].

Domain of Applicability

This free text section should be used to elaborate on the scientific basis for the indicated domains of applicability and the WoE calls (if provided). While structured terms may be selected to define the taxonomic, life stage and sex applicability (see structured applicability terms, above) of the KE, the structured terms may not adequately reflect or capture the overall biological applicability domain (particularly with regard to taxa). Likewise, the structured terms do not provide an explanation or rationale for the selection. The free-text section on evidence for taxonomic, life stage, and sex applicability can be used to elaborate on why the specific structured terms were selected, and provide supporting references and background information.  More help

・Apoptosis is induced in human prostate cancer cell lines (Homo sapiens) [Parajuli et al., 2014].

・Apoptosis occurs in B6C3F1 mouse (Mus musculus) [Elmore, 2007].

・Apoptosis occurs in Sprague-Dawley rat (Rattus norvegicus) [Elmore, 2007].

・Apoptosis occurs in the nematode (Caenorhabditis elegans) [Elmore, 2007].

Regulatory Significance of the Adverse Outcome

An AO is a specialised KE that represents the end (an adverse outcome of regulatory significance) of an AOP. For KEs that are designated as an AO, one additional field of information (regulatory significance of the AO) should be completed, to the extent feasible. If the KE is being described is not an AO, simply indicate “not an AO” in this section.A key criterion for defining an AO is its relevance for regulatory decision-making (i.e., it corresponds to an accepted protection goal or common apical endpoint in an established regulatory guideline study). For example, in humans this may constitute increased risk of disease-related pathology in a particular organ or organ system in an individual or in either the entire or a specified subset of the population. In wildlife, this will most often be an outcome of demographic significance that has meaning in terms of estimates of population sustainability. Given this consideration, in addition to describing the biological state associated with the AO, how it can be measured, and its taxonomic, life stage, and sex applicability, it is useful to describe regulatory examples using this AO. More help


List of the literature that was cited for this KE description. Ideally, the list of references, should conform, to the extent possible, with the OECD Style Guide ( (OECD, 2015). More help

Archana, M. et al. (2013), "Various methods available for detection of apoptotic cells", Indian J Cancer 50:274-283

Elmore, S. (2007), "Apoptosis: a review of programmed cell death", Toxicol Pathol 35:495-516

Glaser, K.B. et al. (2003), "Gene expression profiling of multiple histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors: defining a common gene set produced by HDAC inhibition in T24 and MDA carcinoma cell lines", Mol Cancer Ther 2:151-163

Kerr, J.F.R. et al. (1972), "Apoptosis: a basic biological phenomenon with wide-ranging implications in tissue kinetics", Br J Cancer 26:239-257

Kressel, M. and Groscurth, P. (1994), "Distinction of apoptotic and necrotic cell death by in situ labelling of fragmented DNA", Cell Tissue Res 278:549-556

Martinez, M.M. et al. (2010), "Detection of apoptosis: A review of conventioinal and novel techniques", Anal Methods 2:996-1004

Parajuli, K.R. et al. (2014), "Methoxyacetic acid suppresses prostate cancer cell growth by inducing growth arrest and apoptosis", Am J Clin Exp Urol 2:300-313

Pucci, B. et al. (2000), "Cell cycle and apoptosis", Neoplasia 2:291-299

Taatjes, D.J. et al. (2008), "Morphological and cytochemical determination of cell death by apoptosis", Histochem Cell Biol 129:33-43

Wade, M.G. et al. (2008), "Methoxyacetic acid-induced spermatocyte death is associated with histone hyperacetylation in rats", Biol Reprod 78:822-831

Wang, C. et al. (2017), "CD147 regulates extrinsic apoptosis in spermatocytes by modulating NFkB signaling pathways", Oncotarget 8:3132-3143

Wu, R. et al. (2016), "microRNA-497 induces apoptosis and suppressed proliferation via the Bcl-2/Bax-caspase9-caspase 3 pathway and cyclin D2 protein in HUVECs", PLoS One 11:e0167052

Yasuhara, S. et al. (2003), "Comparison of comet assay, electron microscopy, and flow cytometry for detection of apoptosis", J Histochem Cytochem 51:873-885

Zupkovitz, G. et al. (2010), "The cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 is a crucial target for histone deacetylase 1 as a regulator of cellular proliferation", Mol Cell Biol 30:1171-1181