Assessment of the human epidermis model SkinEthic RHE for in vitro skin corrosion testing of chemicals according to new OECD TG 431.

Based on two successfully completed ECVAM validation studies for in vitro skin corrosion testing of chemicals, the National Co-ordinators of OECD Test Guideline Programme endorsed in 2002 two new test guidelines: TG 430 'Transcutaneous Electrical Resistance assay' and TG 431 'Human Skin Model Test'. To allow all suitable in vitro human reconstructed (dermal or epidermal) models to be used for skin corrosion testing, the OECD TG 431 defines general and functional conditions that the model must meet before it will be routinely used for skin corrosion testing. In addition, the guideline requires correct prediction of 12 reference chemicals and assessment of intra- and inter-laboratory variability. To show that the OECD TG 431 concept works, in 2003 ZEBET tested several chemicals from the ECVAM validation trials on the SkinEthic reconstituted human epidermal (RHE) model. Based on knowledge that reconstructed human skin models perform similarly in toxicological studies, it was decided to adopt the validated EpiDerm skin corrosion test protocol and prediction model to the SkinEthic model. After minor technical changes, classifications were obtained in concordance with those reported for the validated human skin models EPISKIN and EpiDerm. To allow adequate determination of inter-laboratory reproducibility, a blind trial was conducted in three laboratories -- ZEBET (D), Safepharm (UK) and BASF (D), in which the 12 endorsed reference chemicals were tested. Results obtained with the SkinEthic epidermal model were reproducible, both within and between laboratories, and over time. Concordance between the in vitro predictions of skin corrosivity potential obtained with the SkinEthic model and the predictions obtained with the accepted tests of OECD TG 430 and TG 431 was very good. The new test was able to distinguish between corrosive and non-corrosive reference chemicals with an accuracy of 93%.