Evaluation of a human in vitro skin test for predicting drug hypersensitivity reactions

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2019 Apr 15:369:39-48. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2019.02.005. Epub 2019 Feb 12.


The occurrence of drug hypersensitivity reactions (DHRs) following administration of low molecular weight (LMW) drugs is an important health concern. However, in vivo animal models which could be used as tools for the prediction of DHRs are lacking. As a result, research has focused on development of in vitro tools for predicting DHRs. In this study a novel human in vitro pre-clinical skin explant test was used to predict T cell-mediated hypersensitivity responses induced by LMW drugs. Responses in the skin explant test for 12 LMW drugs associated with T cell-mediated hypersensitivity in the clinic (abacavir, amoxicillin, carbamazepine, diclofenac, lamotrigine, lapatinib, lumiracoxib, nevirapine, ofloxacin, phenytoin, propranolol, sulfamethoxazole) were compared with responses for 5 drugs with few/no reports of T cell-mediated hypersensitivity reactions (acetaminophen, cimetidine, flecainide, metformin, verapamil). Changes in skin histology following in vitro exposure to the drugs as well as T cell proliferation and interferon gamma (IFNγ) production were studied. The results of the skin explant assays showed a good positive correlation (r = 0.77, p < .001) between the test outcome (prediction of positive or negative) and the clinical classification of the tested drugs. The T cell proliferation assay showed a correlation of r = 0.60 (p < .01) and the IFNγ assay r = 0.51 (p < .04). The data suggest that the skin explant model could be a useful tool to predict the potential of LMW drugs to induce DHRs.

Keywords: Drug allergy; Drug hypersensitivity; Drug induced T cell responses; Hazard identification; Low molecular weight drugs.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / metabolism
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / pathology
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Irritants / toxicity*
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Molecular Weight
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Assessment
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / immunology
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin Irritancy Tests / methods*
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Tissue Culture Techniques


  • IFNG protein, human
  • Irritants
  • Interferon-gamma