Intralaboratory validation of four in vitro assays for the prediction of the skin sensitizing potential of chemicals

Toxicol In Vitro. 2011 Sep;25(6):1162-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tiv.2011.05.030. Epub 2011 Jun 7.


Allergic contact dermatitis is induced by repeated skin contact with an allergen. Assessment of the skin sensitizing potential of chemicals, agrochemicals, and especially cosmetic ingredients is currently performed with the use of animals. Animal welfare and EU legislation demand animal-free alternatives reflected in a testing and marketing ban for cosmetic ingredients beginning in 2013. The underlying mechanisms of induction and elicitation of skin sensitization are complex and a chemical needs to comply several properties being skin sensitizing. To account for the multitude of events in the induction of skin sensitization an in vitro test system will consist of a battery of various tests. Currently, we performed intralaboratory validations of four assays addressing three different events during induction of skin sensitization. (1) The Direct Peptide Reactivity Assay (DPRA) according to Gerberick and co-workers (Gerberick et al., 2004) using synthetic peptides and HPLC analysis. (2) Two dendritic cell activation assays based on the dendritic cell like cell lines U-937 and THP-1 and flow cytometric detection of the maturation markers CD54 and/or CD86 (Ashikaga et al., 2006; Python et al., 2007; Sakaguchi et al., 2006). (3) Antioxidant response element (ARE)-dependent gene activity in a HaCaT reporter gene cell line (Emter et al., 2010). We present the results of our intralaboratory validation of these assays with 23 substances of known sensitizing potential. The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of the individual tests were obtained by comparison to human epidemiological data as well as to data from animal tests such as the local lymph node assay.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Animal Testing Alternatives / methods
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / diagnosis
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Response Elements
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Skin Irritancy Tests / methods*


  • Allergens
  • Antioxidants
  • Peptides