Immune response to xenobiotics in the skin: from contact sensitivity to drug allergy

Expert Opin Drug Metab Toxicol. 2006 Apr;2(2):261-72. doi: 10.1517/17425255.2.2.261.


Skin is the most frequent target of adverse drug reactions. These cutaneous drug reactions (CDRs) show varied clinical manifestations ranging from mildly discomforting rashes to life-threatening Stevens-Johnson syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis. Most CDRs appear to be immune mediated, although the mechanism by which they are initiated remains unclear. In this review, current knowledge of the mechanisms by which xenobiotics provoke immune responses in the skin after epicutaneous administration and how similar reactions may occur after systemic routes are summarised. This review also discusses a variety of genetic or environmental factors that may determine the susceptibility of individuals towards immune responses in skin following drug exposure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / metabolism
  • Disease Susceptibility / immunology
  • Disease Susceptibility / metabolism
  • Drug Eruptions / etiology
  • Drug Eruptions / immunology*
  • Drug Eruptions / metabolism
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Skin / immunology
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Skin / pathology
  • Xenobiotics / administration & dosage
  • Xenobiotics / immunology*
  • Xenobiotics / metabolism


  • Xenobiotics