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Contact Dermatitis. 2003 Sep;49(3):124-32.

Experimental systemic contact dermatitis from nickel: a dose-response study.

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Department of Dermatology, Gentofte Hospital, University of Copenhagen, 2900 Hellerup, Denmark.


Systemic contact dermatitis is usually seen as flare-up of previous dermatitis or de novo dermatitis similar to allergic contact dermatitis. Although systemic contact dermatitis from medicaments is a well-established entity, the existence of clinically relevant systemic reactions to oral nickel exposure, in particular systemic reactions to nickel in the daily diet, remains controversial. Several studies have shown that oral exposure to nickel can induce systemic contact dermatitis in nickel-sensitive individuals. In most of these studies, however, the exposure dose of nickel used has been considerably higher than the nickel content in the normal daily diet. The aim of the current investigation was to study dose-response dependency of oral exposure to nickel. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled oral exposure trial, 40 nickel-sensitive persons and 20 healthy (non-nickel-sensitive) controls were given nickel sulfate hexahydrate in doses similar to and greater than the amount of nickel ingested in the normal Danish daily diet. The nickel content in urine and serum before and after oral exposure was measured to determine nickel uptake and excretion. The influence of the amount of nickel ingested on the clinical reactions to oral exposure and on nickel concentrations in serum and urine was evaluated. Among nickel-sensitive individuals, a definite dose-response dependency was seen, following oral exposure to nickel. 7 of 10 nickel-sensitive individuals had cutaneous reactions to oral exposure to 4.0 mg nickel, an amount approximately 10 times greater than the estimated normal daily dietary intake of nickel. 4 of 10 nickel-sensitive individuals had cutaneous reactions to 1.0 mg nickel, a dose which is close to the estimated maximum amount of nickel contained in the daily diet. 4 of 10 nickel-sensitive individuals reacted to 0.3 mg nickel or to the amount equivalent to that contained in a normal daily diet, and 1 of 10 reacted to a placebo. None of the 20 healthy controls had cutaneous reactions to 4.0 mg nickel or to a placebo. Prior to oral exposure, there was no measurable difference in the amount of nickel in the urine or serum of nickel-sensitive persons and healthy controls. Following the oral challenge, the nickel content in the urine and serum of both nickel-sensitive and healthy control individuals was directly related to the dose of nickel ingested.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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