Allergic contact dermatitis: xenoinflammation of the skin

Curr Opin Immunol. 2012 Dec;24(6):720-9. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2012.08.003. Epub 2012 Sep 11.


Many xenobiotic chemicals cause sterile inflammation. This xenoinflammation is often induced by protein reactive contact allergens resulting in allergic contact dermatitis (ACD). Recent findings reveal that these chemicals mimick infection by triggering innate immune responses via pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) and endogenous danger signals. The emerging cellular responses in ACD are mediated by various innate effector cells. Here, an important role for mast cells has now been recognized. Eventually, chemical specific T cells such as CD8+ and CD4+ Tc1/Th1 as well as Tc17/Th17 cells are activated. Langerhans cells may serve a tolerogenic function. The mechanisms of tolerance induction by ultraviolet irradiation or by very low doses of contact allergen are now understood in much greater detail.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / adverse effects*
  • Animals
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mast Cells / physiology
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Xenobiotics / adverse effects*


  • Allergens
  • Xenobiotics