Investigation of peptide reactivity of pro-hapten skin sensitizers using a peroxidase-peroxide oxidation system

Toxicol Sci. 2009 Nov;112(1):164-74. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfp192. Epub 2009 Sep 11.


Skin protein reactivity is a well established key step in the development of skin sensitization. Understanding the relationship between a chemical's ability to react with or modify skin protein and skin sensitization has led to the development of the Direct Peptide Reactivity Assay (DPRA) in our laboratory. A current limitation of the DPRA is that it cannot readily measure the reactivity of pro-hapten chemical sensitizers. Pro-haptens are chemical sensitizers that are not directly reactive and must be bioactivated in vivo to form an electrophilic intermediate(s). Results from this work demonstrate the utility of using horseradish peroxidase and hydrogen peroxide (HRP/P) for assessing the skin sensitization potential of pro-haptens. In comparison with "direct" reactivity assessments without HRP/P, statistically significant increases in peptide depletion for all pro-haptens examined were observed following coincubation with HRP/P. Conversely, the percent peptide depletion for all pre-haptens was equally high (> 40% depletion) with and without HRP/P demonstrating an auto-oxidation pathway. In contrast, peptide depletion for all nonsensitizing chemicals examined was low with and without HRP/P. The optimal HRP/P concentrations, incubation time and optimal peptide:chemical ratio were determined using a sensitive and selective high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry detection method. Dithiothreitol was incorporated to reverse the dimerization of the thiol-containing cysteine peptide nucleophile. This preliminary work shows the potential to incorporate an enzyme-mediated activation step for pro-haptens into an in chemico skin sensitization assay that results in the detection of all types of sensitizers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Catechols / pharmacology
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cysteine / chemistry*
  • Dithiothreitol / pharmacology
  • Haptens / toxicity*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Peptides / metabolism*
  • Peroxidases / metabolism*
  • Peroxides / metabolism*
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Catechols
  • Haptens
  • Peptides
  • Peroxides
  • 3-methylcatechol
  • Peroxidases
  • Cysteine
  • Dithiothreitol