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Toxicol Sci. 2002 Aug;68(2):420-8.

Use of a B cell marker (B220) to discriminate between allergens and irritants in the local lymph node assay.

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The Procter & Gamble Company, Miami Valley Laboratories, P.O. Box 538707, Cincinnati, Ohio 4523-8707, USA.


It has been shown that exposure of mice to contact allergens induces B cell activation in the draining lymph nodes (DLN), as seen by an increase in the percentage of B220+ or IgG/IgM+ cells. We have now examined whether the measurement of the percentage of B220+ cells could be used as an alternative or supplementary endpoint for the local lymph node assay (LLNA) to differentiate between allergenic responses and those few irritants that induce low-level proliferation in the DLN. Mice were treated on the ears, daily for 3 consecutive days, with various allergens (1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene, alpha-hexylcinnamaldehyde, trinitrochlorobenzene, isoeugenol, and eugenol) or irritants (benzalkonium chloride, methyl salicylate, salicylic acid, and sodium lauryl sulfate). The DLN were excised 72 h following the final topical treatment, and the cells were prepared for B220 analysis using flow cytometry. The percentage of B220+ cells in lymph nodes derived from test and vehicle-treated animals was determined for 5 allergens and 4 irritants tested in multiple experiments (n = 3 to 17). As expected, the percentage of B220+ B cells was increased with each of the allergens tested, whereas irritant treatment did not cause similar increases. Moreover, the method was reproducible. For example, the strong allergen, 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene and the weak allergen, alpha-hexylcinnamaldehyde were identified as allergens in 17 of 17 and in 12 of 13 experiments, respectively. The percentage of B220 values for each chemical treatment (41 observations for allergens; 28 observations for irritants) versus the percentage of B220 values for the concurrent vehicle controls were plotted, and a classification tree model was developed that defined a B220 test:vehicle ratio cutoff of 1.25 for discriminating between allergens (>1.25) and irritants (<1.25). Using this B220 test:vehicle ratio of 1.25 in 93% of the 69 independent observations made, the allergens and irritants tested were identified correctly. Finally, to evaluate the performance of this model in a second independent laboratory, 3 allergens and 2 irritants were tested. Each of the allergens and irritants were classified correctly using the B220 test:vehicle ratio cutoff of 1.25. These data demonstrate that analysis of B220 expression in DLN may be useful in differentiating between allergen and irritant responses induced in chemically treated mice.

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