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Contact Dermatitis. 2004 Nov-Dec;51(5-6):227-30.

Irritant threshold and histological response of epidermis to irritant application.

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  • 1St John's Institute of Dermatology, St Thomas' Hospital, London, UK.


Individuals vary in their ability to react to irritants, which can be demonstrated for sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) using the irritant threshold (IT) test. We aimed to study whether the histological and immunohistochemical features of the skin following SLS exposure varied with subject's IT. 8 subjects were recruited. Their IT was measured. Biopsies were taken after 2 hr and 4 hr of occlusion with 20% SLS and control. The specimens were stained with haematoxylin and eosin and for Langerhans cells. At 4-hr, low-threshold subjects developed changes to a greater extent than high-threshold subjects. The relationship of histological reaction to IT could be related to a differential pro-inflammatory cytokine response in subjects. Low IT has been previously associated with a tumour necrosis factor alpha promoter region polymorphism.

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