Mechanistic relationship among mutagenicity, skin sensitization, and skin carcinogenicity

J. Ashby, J. Hilton, R. J. Dearman, R. D. Callander, I. Kimber

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Twenty organic Salmonella mutagens, seven of which (including benzo[a]pyrene) are established skin carcinogens, and one of which (2-chloroethanol) is a well-defined noncarcinogen to skin, have been evaluated for skin-sensitizing activity using the local lymph node assay. The relative mutagenicity of the agents to Salmonella was also established. Fourteen of the chemicals were positive in the local lymph node assay, including the seven skin carcinogens. 2-Chloroethanol was inactive as a sensitizing agent. We suggest that a variety of factors contributes to the lack of sensitizing activity of the remaining six bacterial mutagens; extremes of intrinsic chemical reactivity, high water solubility reducing dermal translocation, and inappropriate dermal metabolism. Two reference skin sensitizing agents (an oxazolinone and fluorescein isothiocyanate) were established as in vitro clastogens after their recognition as non mutagens to Salmonella. These data imply that mutagenicity, rather than simply activity in the Salmonella assay, is a primary stimulus for electrophilic sensitization and carinogenic initiation to the skin. We conclude that genotoxicity data for an agent can provide indications of the agent's potential to induce skin sensitization and that genotoxins which are skin-sensitizing agents have an enhanced potential to imitate skin carcinogenesis. We suggest that common, albeit individually distinct structure-activity relationships underpin genotoxicity, skin sensitization and the initiation of skin carcinogenesis. These relationships should simplify the hazard evaluation of chemicals and contribute to a reduction in animal usage. Several predictions of skin carcinogenicity are made based on the date presented.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)62-67
    Number of pages5
    JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1993


    • Lymph node assay
    • Mutagenicity
    • Skin carcinogenicity
    • Skin sensitization


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