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Alternative Methods for Skin Irritation Testing: the Current Status ECVAM Skin Irritation Task Force Report 1


Philip A. Botham, Lesley K. Earl, Julia H. Fentem, Roland Roguet and Johannes J.M. van de Sandt

The ECVAM Skin Irritation Task Force was established in November 1996, primarily to prepare a report on the current status of the development and validation of alternative tests for skin irritation and corrosion and, in particular, to identify any appropriate non-animal tests for predicting human skin irritation which were sufficiently well-developed to warrant ECVAM supporting their prevalidation/validation. The task force based its discussions around the proposed testing strategy for skin irritation/corrosion emanating from an OECD workshop held in January 1996. The following have been reviewed: a) structure-activity and structure-property relationships for skin corrosion and irritation; b) the use of pH and acid/alkaline reserve measurements in predicting skin corrosivity; c) in vitro tests for skin corrosion; d) in vitro tests for skin irritation (keratinocyte cultures, organ cultures, and reconstituted human skin models); and e) human patch tests for skin irritation. It was apparent that, although several promising candidate in vitro tests for skin irritation (for example, reconstituted human skin methods, and human and animal skin organ culture methods) were under development and evaluation, a test protocol, a preliminary prediction model and supporting data on different types of chemicals were only available for a method employing EpiDermTM. Thus, it is proposed that this EpiDerm test undergoes prevalidation during 1998. In addition, since it was felt preferable to be able to include other in vitro tests in such a prevalidation study, it is recommended that a “challenge” be set to anyone interested in taking part. This involves submitting data on ten test chemicals selected by the task force, obtained according to a standard protocol with a preliminary prediction model, for review by the task force by 31 May 1998.