Behaviour of chemical respiratory allergens in novel predictive methods for skin sensitisation

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Abstract

Asthma resulting from sensitisation of the respiratory tract to chemicals is an important occupational health issue, presenting many toxicological challenges. Most importantly there are no recognised predictive methods for respiratory allergens. Nevertheless, it has been found that all known chemical respiratory allergens elicit positive responses in assays for skin sensitising chemicals. Thus, chemicals failing to induce a positive response in skin sensitisation assays such as the local lymph node assay (LLNA) lack not only skin sensitising activity, but also the potential to cause respiratory sensitisation. However, it is unclear whether it will be possible to regard chemicals that are negative in in vitro skin sensitisation tests also as lacking respiratory sensitising activity. To address this, the behaviour of chemical respiratory allergens in the LLNA and in recently validated non-animal tests for skin sensitisation have been examined. Most chemical respiratory allergens are positive in one or more newly validated non-animal test methods, although the situation varies between individual assays. The use of an integrated testing strategy could provide a basis for recognition of most respiratory sensitising chemicals. However, a more complete picture of the performance characteristics of such tests is required before specific recommendations can be made.

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