2000 Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2000 ;164 (1):38-45
Preclinical Safety Department, Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, CH-4002, Switzerland. [email protected]

Use of human skin equivalent Apligraf for in vitro assessment of cumulative skin irritation potential of topical products

The main goal of the present study was to investigate the response of the human skin equivalent Apligraf in vitro to the application of irritant substances and its predictivity as a screening tool for cumulative skin irritant potential in humans. Vaseline, calcipotriol, trans-retinoic acid, and sodium lauryl sulfate were applied to Apligraf in vitro for 24 h. Cell viability (lactate dehydrogenase leakage), release and mRNA expression of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1alpha and IL-8, and morphological changes were assessed. The same products were applied to 30 healthy volunteers in a double-blind, randomized, vehicle-controlled within-subject study. The skin reactions after repeated 24-h applications over 3 weeks under Finn chamber patches were monitored by visual scoring and biophysical methods (trans-epidermal water loss, chromametry, and blood flow). Sodium lauryl sulfate was cytotoxic to Apligraf, and increased the release and expression of cytokines at low (0.2%, 0. 4%), but not at high (0.8%, 1%) concentrations. It induced severe irritancy in vivo. Trans-retinoic acid increased the expression and release of cytokines with no detectable cytotoxicity and showed moderate irritancy in humans. Although calcipotriol did neither affect cell viability nor the production of cytokines, it induced morphological signs of irritation and was mildly irritant for healthy volunteers. Vaseline was innocuous in vivo and induced no changes in Apligraf. In conclusion, the cumulative skin irritation potential of the tested products could be predicted with Apligraf in a sensitive and specific manner, by monitoring cytotoxicity, proinflammatory cytokines, and morphological changes. Copyright 2000 Academic Press.