, Volume 86, Issue 8, pp 1273-1295
Date: 16 Jun 2012

Non-animal test methods for predicting skin sensitization potentials

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Contact allergies are complex diseases, and it is estimated that 15–20 % of the general population suffers from contact allergy, with increasing prevalence. Evaluation of the sensitization potential of a substance is usually carried out in animal models. Nowadays, there is much interest in reducing and ultimately replacing current animal tests. Furthermore, as of 2013, the EU has posed a ban on animal testing of cosmetic ingredients that includes skin sensitization. Therefore, predictive and robust in vitro tests are urgently needed. In order to establish alternatives to animal testing, the in vitro tests must mimic the very complex interactions between the sensitizing chemical and the different parts of the immune system. This review article summarizes recent efforts to develop in vitro tests for predicting skin sensitizers. Cell-based assays, in chemico methods and, to a lesser extent, in silico methods are presented together with a discussion of their current status. With considerable progress having been achieved during the last years, the rationale today is that data from different non-animal test methods will have to be combined in order to obtain reliable hazard and potency information on potential skin sensitizers.