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Toxicology. 1998 Aug 21;129(2-3):193-200.

Selective induction of cell-associated interleukin-1alpha in murine keratinocytes by chemical allergens.

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Center for Cosmetic Toxicology, Institute of Pharmacological Sciences, University of Milan, Italy.


Cytokines may be useful tools to discriminate between irritant and allergic contact dermatitis. In the mouse only, it has been demonstrated by other, that contact sensitizers up-regulated keratinocytes-derived interleukin-1alpha (IL-1), macrophage inflammatory protein-2 and interferon induced protein 10 mRNAs. The purpose of this study was to investigate the possibility to use in vitro IL-1 production by a murine keratinocyte cell line for preliminary screening of chemicals for their irritant and/or allergic potential. We investigated the effects of five relevant skin allergens (dinitrochlorobenzene, oxazolone, nickel sulfate, penicillin G and eugenol), two skin irritants (benzalkonium chloride, and methylsalicilate) and two compounds with no sensitizing activity (glycerol and ethanol) on IL-1 production in HEL30 cells. Twenty four hours following treatment, both IL-1 release in conditioned media and cell-associated IL-1 were measured by a specific sandwich ELISA. Under our experimental conditions, only contact sensitizers were able to increase in a dose dependent fashion cell-associated IL-1, confirming the in vivo findings. Both skin irritants and allergens induced the release of IL-1, because of the irritative properties of both chemicals, while ethanol and glycerol failed to induce changes in IL-1 production, confirming the specificity of the proposed test. Taken together, these data indicate that it may be realistic to consider potential skin allergens those chemicals which are able to increase cell-associated IL-1, to consider skin irritants those chemicals which induce only IL-1 release, and to exclude as potential allergens or irritants those chemicals which fail to induce changes in IL-1 production.

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