Thresholds of elicitation depend on induction conditions. Could low level exposure induce sub-clinical allergic states that are only elicited under the severe conditions of clinical diagnosis?

Food Chem Toxicol. 2004 Nov;42(11):1859-65. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2004.06.017.


While numerous studies have examined dose/response relationships occurring in the experimental induction of contact allergic dermatitis, fewer have examined the effects of varying the doses of both induction and challenge. Recently published studies have however done this and they all show the same remarkable observation: the threshold of elicitation decreases as the doses used to induce the allergy increase. This has important implications. One is that it may be more complicated to determine clear threshold doses below which allergic responses are not seen. It is also proposed that normal exposure to weak allergens such as some fragrance materials may induce "sub-clinical" allergic states which will not be elicited under these same exposure conditions but which may become apparent under the more severe conditions of clinical diagnosis. This may explain why the prevalence of Patch test reactions to some fragrance materials is apparently increasing in the absence of any clearly documented "epidemic" of consumer complaints.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / administration & dosage
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / diagnosis*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic
  • Humans
  • Patch Tests
  • Perfume / adverse effects*
  • Skin
  • Threshold Limit Values


  • Allergens
  • Perfume