What’s new in 2006 DeCS

In addition to the annual changes related to the MeSH vocabulary, the main novelty is the fully revised Public Health category (SP).  This effort was carried out by professionals from the Public Health College of the University of São Paulo and Environmental Health specialists from CEPIS/PAHO in coordination with BIREME.  As a result, 68 descriptors were modified, 451 were created, 322 were eliminated and absorbed by other descriptors, while 2673 remained.


Moreover, the Spanish and English versions of the Health Surveillance category (VS) were included.



Overview of Vocabulary Development and Changes



·         933 MeSH descriptors were added. The ten subcategories receiving the greatest additions were the amino acids, peptides and proteins (446), enzymes and coenzymes (176), animals (55), macromolecular substances (22), musculoskeletal system (19), organic compounds (13), Chemical actions and uses (13), genetic structures (10), bacteria (10), and nervous system diseases (9);

·         138 MeSH descriptors were replaced with more up-to-date terminology;

·           50 MeSH descriptors were deleted;

·         459 DeCS descriptors were added to the SP category: 14 in SP1, 42 in SP2, 33 in SP3, 322 in SP4, 21 in SP5, and 27 in SP6;

·         the DeCS SP7 subcategory, Health Sector Reform, was dismembered: 65 descriptors were moved to other subcategories, 6 were modified, and 75 were eliminated and absorbed by other descriptors.



New Descriptors by Tree Category


A – Anatomy - 35
B – Organisms - 85
C – Diseases - 58
D – Chemicals and Drugs - 684
E – Analytical, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques and Equipment - 23
F – Psychiatry and Psychology - 2
G – Biological Sciences – 42
H – Physical Sciences – 1
HP – Homeopathy - 0
I – Anthropology, Education, Sociology and Social Phenomena - 2
J – Technology and Food and Beverages – 3
K – Humanities - 0
L – Information Science – 4
M – Persons - 0
N – Health Care – 2
SH – Health Surveillance - 0
SP – Public Health - 459
V – Publication Characteristics - 6 (new category)
VS – Health Surveillance – 3
Z – Geographic Locations - 0


The total is more than 1395 because some descriptors occur in more than one category.


Totals by Type of Terminology


Annual numeric variation





Total MeSH descriptors (MH+PT)





Total DeCS descriptors (DH+DQ)





Total MeSH subheadings (MQ)





Total Concepts







Publication Characteristics


The Publication Characteristics category (V) was created. The new category contains all publication types and five descriptors related to research support, which in this manner have been assigned a hierarchical structure under four subcategories:


V01 - Publication Components [Publication Type];

V02- Publication Formats [Publication Type]; and

V03 - Study Characteristics [Publication Type]
V04 – Support of Research


Publication Types


Three publication types were eliminated:


The following three publication type were eliminated, absorbed by the PT Revision [Publication Type], as entry terms. This streamlines the use of vocabulary for review literature:


Review of Reported Cases [Publication Type]

Review, Multicase [Publication Type]

Review, Tutorial [Publication Type]



Support of Research


During the last year, Support of Research was added as were Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural and Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural.





The descriptors for the phylum Mollusca were revised and expanded.


The descriptors for the order Primates were revised.


Many entry terms for specific species and genera of Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises were promoted into new descriptors.


A new subcategory, Mesomycetozoea B08, was created. This is a class of parasitic and saprophytic microorganisms whose origins can be traced to near the animal-fungal divergence.


Influenza A Viruses and Related Headings



The phrase "bird flu" has become prevalent in the professional literature and especially in the public print media. Major difficulties with this expression exist, largely because it is ambiguous, and because all influenza A viruses have a host in birds. The expression is not always used consistently by authors: sometimes it (correctly) describes the disease in birds, while other times it refers to a disease and potential pandemic in humans. Therefore the 2006 Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®) have been refined to allow easier and more consistent indexing and search retrieval for this subject area.


MeSH Headings

The MeSH section has created eight new influenza A virus headings and deleted three older ones. The deleted headings are INFLUENZA A VIRUS, AVIAN; INFLUENZA A VIRUS, HUMAN; and INFLUENZA A VIRUS, PORCINE. The new headings describe the most frequently mentioned viral subtypes.

See complete article



Drugs and Chemicals


Continuing the restructuring of the D category D (Chemicals and Drugs), several subcategories were abolished, their descriptors eliminated or relocated to other subcategories. See details


The lists below comparing the D subcategories in the 2005 and 2006 editions summarize these changes (differences in italics):

Inorganic Chemicals [D01]
Organic Chemicals [D02]
Heterocyclic Compounds [D03]
Polycyclic Compounds [D04]
Macromolecular Substances [D05]
Hormones, Hormone Substitutes, and Hormone Antagonists [D06]
Enzymes and Coenzymes [D08]
Carbohydrates [D09]
Lipids [D10]
Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins [D12]
Nucleic Acids, Nucleotides, and Nucleosides [D13]
Complex Mixtures [D20]
Biological Factors [D23]
Biomedical and Dental Materials [D25]
Pharmaceutical Preparations [D26]
Chemical Actions and Uses [D27]

Inorganic Chemicals [D01]
Organic Chemicals [D02]
Heterocyclic Compounds [D03]
Polycyclic Compounds [D04]
Macromolecular Substances [D05]
Hormones, Hormone Substitutes, and Hormone Antagonists [D06]
Reproductive Control Agents [D07]
Enzymes and Coenzymes [D08]
Carbohydrates [D09]
Lipids [D10]
Growth Substances, Pigments, and Vitamins [D11]
Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins [D12]
Nucleic Acids, Nucleotides, and Nucleosides [D13]
Neurotransmitters and Neurotransmitter Agents [D14]
Central Nervous System Agents [D15]
Peripheral Nervous System Agents [D16]
Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Antirheumatic Agents, and Inflammation Mediators [D17]
Cardiovascular Agents [D18]
Hematologic, Gastrointestinal, and Renal Agents [D19]

Complex Mixtures [D20]
Anti-Allergic and Respiratory System Agents [D21]
Antineoplastic and Immunosuppressive Agents [D22]

Dermatologic Agents [D23]
Immunologic and Biological Factors [D24]
Biomedical and Dental Materials [D25]
Pharmaceutical Preparations [D26]
Chemical Actions and Uses [D27]


The multi-year effort to restructure descriptors with combined activity and structure meanings was continued for 2006 MeSH. Those descriptors remaining solely in D27 are activity descriptors that are used as Pharmacologic Actions (PA). Structural members of these groups were reviewed for proper placement in structural D trees and made PAs to the appropriate activities.



Biological Fusion


To update the different "fusion" concepts in MeSH, changes related to gene fusion and to membrane fusion have been made. For 2006, some 20 new descriptors were created. These include - Artificial Gene Fusion, Oncogene Fusion, Mutant Chimeric Proteins, and Membrane Fusion Proteins. Major types of Membrane Fusion Proteins were created and treed under Membrane Proteins.



Non-Placental Animal Reproduction


Several new concepts related to reproduction in non-placental animals were created. These include:


Clutch Size
Viviparity, Nonmammalian.



Pregnancy is used with placental organisms only. Clutch Size is to be used with oviparous or ovoviviparous animals only. Litter Size is used for viviparous animals.



Vitamins Category Change

MeSH has previously indented individual nutrients under Vitamins. As some of these are used chemically for other things, vitamins are now viewed in MeSH as an activity and placed in D27 (Chemical Actions and Uses). Individual vitamin compounds have been retained in their appropriate locations as a chemical such as Ascorbic Acid under Sugar Acids, and each has the Pharmacologic Action (PA) of Vitamins.




Schulman J. What's New for 2006 MeSH®. 2005 Nov-Dec; (347):e8. Available on the Internet: <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/techbull/nd05/nd05_2006_MeSH.html>




Date of last update: April 2006.