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The number of studies involved in the development of in vitro skin sensitization tests has increased since the adoption of the EU 7th amendment to the cosmetics directive proposing to ban animal testing for cosmetic ingredients by 2013. Several studies have recently demonstrated that sensitizers induce a relevant up-regulation of activation markers such as CD86, CD54, IL-8 or IL-1β in human myeloid cell lines (e.g., U937, MUTZ-3, THP-1) or in human peripheral blood monocyte-derived dendritic cells (PBMDCs). The present study aimed at the identification of new dendritic cell activation markers in order to further improve the in vitro evaluation of the sensitizing potential of chemicals. We have compared the gene expression profiles of PBMDCs and the human cell line MUTZ-3 after a 24-h exposure to the moderate sensitizer cinnamaldehyde. A list of 80 genes modulated in both cell types was obtained and a set of candidate marker genes was selected for further analysis. Cells were exposed to selected sensitizers and non-sensitizers for 24 h and gene expression was analyzed by quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Results indicated that PIR, TRIM16 and two Nrf2-regulated genes, CES1 and NQO1, are modulated by most sensitizers. Up-regulation of these genes could also be observed in our recently published DC-activation test with U937 cells. Due to their role in DC activation, these new genes may help to further refine the in vitro approaches for the screening of the sensitizing properties of a chemical.