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J Appl Toxicol. 2014 Aug;34(8):893-902. doi: 10.1002/jat.2911. Epub 2013 Aug 23.

The alkylphenols 4-nonylphenol, 4-tert-octylphenol and 4-tert-butylphenol aggravate atopic dermatitis-like skin lesions in NC/Nga mice.

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Department of Health Sciences, Oita University of Nursing and Health Sciences, Megusuno, Oita City, Oita, Japan.


Phthalate esters in plastics act as adjuvants for immunoglobulin production, which aggravates allergic disease. However, the effects of alkylphenols (used as plasticizers and surfactants) on atopic dermatitis have not been studied in detail. Therefore, the goal of the present study was to investigate the effects of the alkylphenols 4-nonylphenol (NP), 4-tert-octylphenol (OP) and 4-tert-butylphenol (BP) in a murine model of atopic dermatitis. NC/Nga mice were intraperitoneally administered NP, OP or BP and were subcutaneously injected with mite allergen in one ear to induce atopic dermatitis-like skin lesions (ADSLs). The condition of the skin was observed, and the levels of immunoglobulin in serum and inflammatory cytokines in lesions were determined. NP exacerbated mite allergen-induced ADSLs according to dose. OP and BP also significantly exacerbated skin lesions but not as a function of dose. Alkylphenols tended to increase the levels of IgE and antigen-specific IgG1 in serum. Further, the treatment of the alkylphenols increased the expression in lesions of inflammatory cytokines, interleukin-4 and monocyte chemotactic protein-3. Thymic stromal lymphopoietin levels increased according to ADSL severity. In contrast, the levels of the T-helper 1 cytokines (interleukin-18 and interferon-gamma) decreased. NP, OP or BP may enhance T-helper 2-type immune responses in NC/Nga mice, which aggravates mite allergen-induced ADSLs. Therefore, the uptake of very low levels of alkylphenols may contribute to the increase in the incidence of atopic dermatitis.


4-nonylphenol; 4-tert-butylphenol; 4-tert-octylphenol; T-helper 2 cytokine; atopic dermatitis; immunoglobulin

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