Lymphocyte subset changes in blood and gastrointestinal mucosa after oral nickel challenge in nickel-sensitized women

Contact Dermatitis. 2000 Oct;43(4):206-11. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0536.2000.043004206.x.


This study investigates lymphocyte subsets in both the gastrointestinal mucosa and blood, in patients with nickel allergic contact dermatitis, after 10 mg oral nickel challenge (double-blind, placebo-controlled). 6 such patients with cutaneous symptoms induced only by skin contact with nickel (group A), 6 with a flare-up of cutaneous symptoms after food nickel ingestion (group B) and 6 healthy controls (group C) were enrolled. Blood lymphocyte subsets (CD4, CD45RO, CD8) were analyzed before and after 4 and 24 h from the challenge (test 1, 2, and 3), and intestinal biopsies were performed 2 days later. Challenges were positive in group B and negative in group A and controls. Serum and urine nickel levels significantly increased after nickel ingestion, with no differences between the 3 groups. At test 3, a significant decrease of the all CDs studied was found in group B. Biopsies of this group showed higher levels of CD45RO+ cells in the lamina propria and in the epithelium and lower levels of epithelial CD8+ lymphocytes. This study confirms that ingested nickel may induce flare-up of cutaneous reactions in some nickel-allergic patients, independently of the degree of sensitization and the intake of metal. In these patients, oral nickel stimulates the immune system, inducing maturation of T lymphocytes from virgin into memory cells; these latter cells seem to accumulate in the intestinal mucosa. The immunoreaction also involves CD8+ cells, whose role is not yet clear.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Allergens* / administration & dosage
  • Allergens* / blood
  • Allergens* / urine
  • Basement Membrane / pathology
  • Biopsy
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / blood
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / pathology*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Female
  • Gastric Mucosa / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Memory / immunology
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology*
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / analysis
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / classification
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nickel* / administration & dosage
  • Nickel* / blood
  • Nickel* / urine
  • Placebos
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Allergens
  • Placebos
  • Nickel
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens