Cytokine fingerprinting: Characterization of chemical allergens

Rebecca J. Dearman, Ian Kimber

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Chemical allergy is a common and important occupational health issue. Allergic sensitization induced by chemicals may take a variety of forms, including allergic contact dermatitis (skin sensitization) and allergic asthma and rhinitis (sensitization of the respiratory tract). There is a need to identify and characterize chemicals that have the potential to cause such sensitization reactions. Although a number of methods are available for the prospective analysis of skin sensitizing activity, there are currently no widely accepted tests for the identification of chemical respiratory allergens. We here describe a novel approach, cytokine fingerprinting, that has the potential to distinguish between chemical contact and respiratory allergens. The pattern of cytokine production by draining lymph node cells (LNCs) is evaluated following repeated topical exposure of mice to test chemicals. Experience to date reveals that contact allergens stimulate the selective development of type 1 immune responses associated with the secretion by draining LNCs of interferon γ (lFN-γ), but little interleukin-4 (IL-4) or interleukin-10 (IL-10). In contrast, chemical respiratory allergens are found to induce the appearance of preferential type 2 immune responses characterized by IL-4 and IL-10 production, but comparatively low levels of IFN-γ. It is proposed that cytokine fingerprinting may permit the simultaneous identification and characterization of those chemicals that have the potential to cause allergic sensitization.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)56-63
    Number of pages7
    JournalMethods in Enzymology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 1999


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