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A murine local lymph node assay for the identification of contact allergens

Assay development and results of an initial validation study


The development of an alternative predictive test for the identification of contact sensitizing chemicals is described. The method is based upon the fact that, following epicutaneous application, sensitizing chemicals initiate a primary immunological response in the draining lymph node(s) which is characterized by lymphocyte proliferation. Experimental conditions for the measurement in vitro of the induced lymph node cell proliferative response have been optimized. On the basis of the data presented a local lymph node assay was developed in which CBA/Ca strain mice were exposed daily, for 3 consecutive days, to various concentrations of the test chemical, or to vehicle alone, on the dorsum of the ear. Lymph node activation was measured subsequently as a function of increased node weight, the frequency of large pyroninophilic cells and lymphocyte proliferation in the presence or absence of an exogenous source of interleukin 2 (IL-2). The results of a validation study are reported in which 22 well-characterized sensitizing chemicals of varying potency were examined. With the exception of three chemicals where water was used as the application vehicle, positive responses, defined as a substantial increase in lymphocyte proliferative activity, were recorded with all these test materials. Under the conditions employed non-sensitizing chemicals, including non-sensitizing irritant chemicals, failed to influence the immunological status of the draining lymph node. Taken together, the data suggest that the local lymph node assay provides the basis for a rapid and cost-effective alternative to the currently available guinea pig predictive test methods. The local lymph node assay may be of particular value for the evaluation of coloured or irritant chemicals.

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Correspondence to Dr. I. Kimber.

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Kimber, I., Weisenberger, C. A murine local lymph node assay for the identification of contact allergens. Arch Toxicol 63, 274–282 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00278640

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Key words

  • Local lymph node assay
  • Lymphocyte proliferation
  • Contact sensitivity predictive testing