A quantitative approach to assess the potency of skin sensitizers in the elicitation phase

Janine Ezendam*, Jolanda P. Vermeulen, Arja de Klerk, Wim H. de Jong, Henk van Loveren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The concept that thresholds exist for the induction of allergic contact dermatitis by chemicals with skin sensitizing properties has been used for a quantitative risk assessment approach. In this approach the potency of skin sensitizers as determined in the Local Lymph Node Assay is used to calculate the threshold for induction of sensitization. These are then used to estimate safe exposure levels for consumers. Whether these exposure levels will protect subjects that are already sensitized is unknown. The elicitation of allergic contact dermatitis supposedly occurs above a certain threshold as well and this threshold is most likely lower than that for the induction. It is unclear if induction thresholds can be extrapolated to elicitation thresholds. The aim of this study was to assess the potency of sensitizers with different sensitizing potencies in the elicitation phase in a mouse model for elicitation. Mice were sensitized by topical application on days 0 and 7 using equipotent concentrations of oxazolone, 2,4-dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB) and eugenol to ensure that the sensitization strength would not influence the elicitation potency. Mice were challenged on day 21 by topical application on the ears in a dose-dependent manner and dose-response data were used to calculate the elicitation potency. Unexpectedly, sensitizers with different sensitizing potencies induced not the same dose-response curves in sensitized mice. The most potent sensitizer in the elicitation phase was oxazolone, followed by DNCB and eugenol. Similar to the induction phase, under equipotent sensitization conditions strong sensitizers such as oxazolone and DNCB elicit allergic reactions at lower concentrations than weak sensitizers such as eugenol. Our results indicate that elicitation thresholds cannot be readily deduced from sensitization thresholds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-24
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2012


  • Skin sensitization
  • Elicitation thresholds
  • Benchmark dose approach
  • Potency

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