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Toxicol Sci. 2003 Feb;71(2):137-45.

Chemical allergy: considerations for the practical application of cytokine profiling.

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  • 1Syngenta Central Toxicology Laboratory, Alderley Park, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK10 4TJ, United Kingdom.


Chemical respiratory allergy is an important occupational health problem, but there are currently available no validated methods for hazard identification. This is due in part to the fact that the relevant cellular and molecular mechanisms of sensitization of the respiratory tract have been unclear, with particular controversy regarding the role of IgE. There is now increasing evidence that respiratory sensitization is associated with the preferential activation of type 2 T lymphocytes and the expression of type 2 cytokines interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, IL-10, and IL-13. Type 2 cell products favor immediate type hypersensitivity reactions, serving as growth and differentiation factors for mast cells and eosinophils, the cellular effectors of the clinical manifestations of the allergic responses, and promoting IgE antibody production. There has been considerable interest in the application of cytokine profiling for the characterization of chemical allergens, with cytokine phenotypes analyzed in freshly isolated tissue, or following culture in the presence or absence of mitogen at the level of protein secretion or mRNA expression. Experience to date suggests that the measurement of induced cytokine secretion profiles shows promise for the hazard identification and characterization of chemical respiratory allergens. The purpose of this brief review article is to consider the approaches available and to highlight key procedural issues.

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