Regulatory policies in Europe prohibited the testing of cosmetic ingredients in animals for a number of toxicological endpoints. Currently no validated non-animal test methods exist for skin sensitization. Evaluation of changes in cell surface marker expression in dendritic cell (DC)-surrogate cell lines represents one non-animal approach. The human Cell Line Activation Test (h-CLAT) examines the level of CD86 and CD54 expression on the surface of THP-1 cells, a human monocytic leukemia cell line, following 24h of chemical exposure. To examine protocol transferability, between-lab reproducibility, and predictive capacity, the h-CLAT has been evaluated by five independent laboratories in several ring trials (RTs) coordinated by the European Cosmetics Association (COLIPA). The results of the first and second RTs demonstrated that the protocol was transferable and basically had good between-lab reproducibility and predictivity, but there were some false negative data. To improve performance, protocol and prediction model were modified. Using the modified prediction model in the first and second RT, accuracy was improved. However, about 15% of the outcomes were not correctly identified, which exposes some of the limitations of the assay. For the chemicals evaluated, the limitation may due to chemical being a weak allergen or having low solubility (ex. alpha-hexylcinnamaldehyde). The third RT evaluated the modified prediction model and satisfactory results were obtained. From the RT data, the feasibility of utilizing cell lines as surrogate DC in development of in vitro skin sensitization methods shows promise. The data also support initiating formal pre-validation of the h-CLAT in order to fully understand the capabilities and limitations of the assay.
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