Chemical Structure and the Generation of an Allergic Reaction

  • David Basketter
Reference work entry


Structure activity relationships, quantitative structure activity relationships.


The structure of a chemical and its associated  physicochemical properties are fundamental determinants of the nature, type and degree of allergic reaction(s) that it may cause. Typically, chemicals which cause allergic reactions have a molecular weight in excess of 1000 Daltons, allowing ready penetration through epithelial surfaces, including the skin. However, exceptions do occur.


Chemicals must bind firmly with proteins in order to behave as  haptens. For organic chemicals, this means the formation of covalent bonds; for the few allergenic metals (like nickel) the formation of coordination complexes is key. Extremely rarely-for example, for some drug allergens-tight interactions of organic chemical with protein, such as those encountered in ligand-receptor interactions, have been proposed. Thus the primary elements examined in relating structure to allergy are those...

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Basketter
    • 1
  1. 1.Applied Science and Technology Safety and Environmental Assurance CentreUnilever Colworth LaboratoryBedfordUK