Modeling the bioconcentration factors and bioaccumulation factors of polychlorinated biphenyls with posetic quantitative super-structure/activity relationships (QSSAR).
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During bioconcentration, chemical pollutants from water are absorbed by aquatic animals via the skin or a respiratory surface, while the entry routes of chemicals during bioaccumulation are both directly from the environment (skin or a respiratory surface) and indirectly from food. The bioconcentration factor (BCF) and the bioaccumulation factor (BAF) for a particular chemical compound are defined as the ratio of the concentration of a chemical inside an organism to the concentration in the surrounding environment. Because the experimental determination of BAF and BCF is time-consuming and expensive, it is efficacious to develop models to provide reliable activity predictions for a large number of chemical compounds. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) released from industrial activities are persistent pollutants of the environment that produce widespread contamination of water and soil. PCBs can bioaccumulate in the food chain, constituting a potential source of exposure for the general population. To predict the bioconcentration and bioaccumulation factors for PCBs we make use of the biphenyl substitution-reaction network for the sequential substitution of H-atoms by Cl-atoms. Each PCB structure then occurs as a node of this reaction network, which is some sort of super-structure, turning out mathematically to be a partially ordered set (poset). Rather than dealing with the molecular structure via ordinary QSAR we use only this poset, making different quantitative super-structure/activity relationships (QSSAR). Thence we developed cluster expansion and splinoid QSSARs for PCB bioconcentration and bioaccumulation factors. The predictive ability of the BAF and BCF models generated for 20 data sets (representing different conditions and fish species) was evaluated with the leave-one-out cross-validation, which shows that the splinoid QSSAR (r between 0.903 and 0.935) are better than models computed with the cluster expansion (r between 0.745 and 0.887). The splinoid QSSAR models for BAF and BCF yield predictions for the missing PCBs in the investigated data sets.