Application of the dermal sensitization threshold concept to chemicals classified as high potency category for skin sensitization assessment of ingredients for consumer products

Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2020 Nov;117:104732. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2020.104732. Epub 2020 Aug 11.


Skin sensitization evaluation is a key part of the safety assessment of ingredients in consumer products, which may have skin sensitizing potential. The dermal sensitization threshold (DST) concept, which is based on the concept of the thresholds of toxicological concern, has been proposed for the risk assessment of chemicals to which skin exposure is very low level. There is negligible risk of skin sensitization if a skin exposure level for the substance of interest was below the reactive DST which would protect against 95% of protein-reactive chemicals. For the remaining 5%, the substance with the defined knowledge of chemical structure (i.e., High Potency Category (HPC) rules) needs to be excluded from the application. However, the DST value for HPC chemicals has not yet been proposed. In this study, we calculated the 95th percentile probabilities estimate from distributions of skin sensitization potency data and derived a novel DST for HPC chemicals (HPC DST) of 1.5 μg/cm2. This value presents a useful default approach for unidentified substances in ingredients considering, as a worst-case scenario, that the unidentified compound may be a potent skin sensitizer. Finally, we developed a novel risk assessment workflow incorporating the HPC DST along with the previously published DSTs.

Keywords: Dermal sensitization threshold (DST); High potency category (HPC) chemicals; Non-animal methods; Sensitization risk assessment; Skin sensitization.

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / classification*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin Tests / methods*


  • Allergens