Module 5: Target Organ Toxicity and Biomarkers 

Date of release/last update: created 22-04-2016, last version 3-12-2017 


  • Ana Isabel Morales Martín (USAL)
  • Marta Prieto Vicente (USAL)
  • Laura Vicente Vicente (USAL)
  • Moisés Pescador Garriel (USAL)
  • Alfredo Ginés Casanova Paso (USAL)
  • Premysl Mladenka (CUNI)
  • Jana Pourova (CUNI)
  • Fernando Remião (UPorto)
  • Ana Rita Lima (UPorto)
  • Daniela Rodrigues (U.Porto)
  • Carolina Rocha-Pereira (U.Porto)
  • Ricardo Dinis-Oliveira (U.Porto)
  • Helena Carmo (UPorto)
  • Félix Carvalho (UPorto)
  • Maria de Lourdes Bastos (UPorto)

Short descriptions

This module aims to learn the adverse effects or pathological states caused by toxicants in specific organs of the body. For each organ, several aspects will be discussed: the main mechanisms involved in the toxicity, the main toxicants responsible for the damage and the currently used biomarkers which are able to specify the kind of damage and the place where is being produced.

Intended learning outcomes       

  • At the end of this module, the learner should be able to:
  • identify the organ and type(s) of damage brought  by toxic agents.
  • know the mechanisms of toxicity  produced in each organ.
  • differentiate the biomarkers able to detect the damage(s) in each organ.

For each target organ of toxicity, the student should be familiar with:

  • Important information about the structure and function of organs if relevant for toxicologal aspects
  • General patterns of organ toxicity including mechanisms of damage (if known)
  • Consequences of organ toxic damage(s), in particular functional impairment
  • Important biomarkers of organ toxicity (if known)
  • Important consequences of organ toxicity affecting other tissues or systems (if they exist)
  • Examples of toxic substances that affect the target organ

Module structures

5.1  Cardiovascular toxicity (2 ECTS)

  • Basic aspects of the heart physiology including the impact of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system
  • An overview of cardiovascular toxicity including the most important toxic agents and main modalities of intoxications treatment
  • Markers of cardiovascular toxicity

5.2 Pulmonary toxicity (1 ECTS)

  • Human respiratory system anatomy, physiology and defence - basic aspects
  • Air-borne agents - general characteristics and the most important toxic gases, vapors and fine particles
  • Blood-borne agents - general characteristics and the most important examples

5.3 Renal toxicity (2 ECTS)

  • Renal system and sources of exposure to renal toxins
  • Mechanisms of nephrotoxicity
  • Kidney response to toxic injury
  • Diagnosis and treatment of kidney damage

5.4 Liver toxicity (2 ECTS)

  • Liver physiology
  • Main mechanisms of liver injury by xenobiotics
  • Factors affecting xenobiotic hepatotoxicity
  • Hepatotoxic xenobiotics (e.g. alcohol, paracetamol, carbon tetrachloride, aflatoxin B)

5.5 Nervous system toxicity (1 ECTS)

  • Nervous system
  • Toxic neuropathies
  • Neurodegenerative diseases and toxicity

Estimated workload        

8 ECTS: 224 hours


Students (University, PhD or Master) of degrees:

  • Pharmacy
  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Veterinary medicine
  • Biology
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Forensic sciences

Students of Vocational training

  • Pharmacy assistant
  • Nursing assistant
  • Veterinary assistant
  • Laboratory technicians

Professionals in fields related to toxicology

  • Pharmacists
  • Occupational medicine professionals
  • Forensics
  • Supervisory bodies
  • Police forces

General audience interested in toxicology

Available languages          

English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Czech, Romanian, Bulgarian, Finnish

First, an English or native language version of each author will be created. Translations into the languages of all involved countries and English will be the final outcome.