Alternative Methods for Skin Irritation Testing: the Current Status

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.
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An Evaluation of the Proposed OECD Testing Strategy for Skin Corrosion

Andrew P. Worth, Julia H. Fentem, Michael Balls, Philip A. Botham, Rodger D. Curren, Lesley K. Earl, David J. Esdaile and Manfred Liebsch

The use of testing strategies which incorporate a range of alternative methods and which use animals only as a last resort is widely considered to provide a reliable way of predicting chemical toxicity while minimising animal testing. The widespread concern over the severity of the Draize rabbit test for assessing skin irritation and corrosion led to the proposal of a stepwise testing strategy at an OECD workshop in January 1996. Subsequently, the proposed testing strategy was adopted, with minor modifications, by the OECD Advisory Group on Harmonization of Classification and Labelling. This article reports an evaluation of the proposed OECD testing strategy as it relates to the classification of skin corrosives. By using a set of 60 chemicals, an assessment was made of the effect of applying three steps in the strategy, taken both individually and in sequence. The results indicate that chemicals can be classified as corrosive (C) or non-corrosive (NC) with sufficient reliability by the sequential application of three alternative methods, i.e., structure-activity relationships (where available), pH measurements, and a single in vitro method (either the rat skin transcutaneous electrical resistance (TER) assay or the EPISKINTM assay). It is concluded that the proposed OECD strategy for skin corrosion can be simplified without compromising its predictivity. For example, it does not appear necessary to measure acid/alkali reserve (buffering capacity) in addition to pH for the classification of pure chemicals.
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In Vitro Tests within the REACH Information Strategies

Kimmo Louekari, Kirsi Sihvonen, Marko Kuittinen and Vibeke Sømnes

Tonnage-based information requirements are specified in the proposal on the regulation on the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) in the European Union. The hazard assessment for toxic endpoints should be performed by using a tiered approach, i.e. as an information strategy (IS), starting with an evaluation of all of the data already available, including animal in vivo and in vitro data, and human evidence and case reports, as well as data from (Quantitative)-Structure Activity Relationships ([Q]SARs) or read-across, before any further testing is suggested. To contribute to the implementation of the REACH system, the Nordic countries launched two projects: 1) a review of currently used testing strategies, including a comparison with the REACH requirements; and 2) the development of detailed ISs for skin and eye irritation/corrosion. The review showed that the ISs and classification criteria for the selected endpoints are inconsistent in many cases. In the classification criteria, human data and in vivo test results are usually the prerequisites. Other types of information, such as data from in vitro studies, can sometimes be used, but usually as supportive evidence only. This differs from the REACH ISs, where QSARs, read-across and in vitro testing are important elements. In the other part of the project, an IS for skin and eye irritation/corrosion was proposed. The strategy was “tested” by using four high production volume (HPV) chemicals: hydrogen peroxide, methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE), trivalent chromium, and diantimony trioxide, but only MTBE and trivalent chromium are dealt with in this paper. The “test” revealed that in vivo data, human case reports and physical-chemical data were available and could be used in the evaluation. Classification could be based on the proposed IS and the existing data in all cases, except for the eye irritation/corrosion of trivalent chromium. Weight-of-evidence analysis appeared to be a useful step in the ISs proposed, and including it in the REACH strategies should be considered. For these chemicals, few in vitro and (Q)SAR data were available — more of these data would be generated, if the relevant guidance and legislation on classification were updated.
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