An in vitro test to screen skin sensitizers using a stable THP-1-derived IL-8 reporter cell line, THP-G8

Toshiya Takahashi, Yutaka Kimura, Rumiko Saito, Yoshihiro Nakajima, Yoshihiro Ohmiya, Kenshi Yamasaki, Setsuya Aiba

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65 Citations (Scopus)


Several studies have suggested that interleukin (IL)-8 can serve as a biomarker for discrimination of skin sensitizers from nonsensitizers. We established a stable THP-1-derived IL-8 reporter cell line, THP-G8, which harbors SLO and SLR luciferase genes under the control of IL-8 and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase promoters, respectively. After 6 h treatment with chemicals, normalized SLO luciferase activity (nSLO-LA) was calculated by dividing SLO-LA by SLR-LA, and the fold induction of nSLO-LA (FInSLO-LA) was calculated by dividing nSLO-LA of chemically treated cells by that of nontreated cells. The nSLO-LA of THP-G8 cells increased in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and several sensitizers. The FInSLO-LA in THP-G8 cells induced by LPS or sensitizers positively correlated with their induction of IL-8 messenger RNA in THP-1 cells. The nSLO-LA value of THP-G8 cells was significantly increased (FInSLO-LA ≥ 1.4) by 13 of the 15 sensitizers as well as by 5 of the 7 nonsensitizers. Interestingly, pretreatment with N-acetylcysteine suppressed the increase in FInSLO-LA induced by all sensitizers (inhibition index (II) ≤ 0.8) but did not suppress that induced by most of the nonsensitizers. We then evaluated the performance of this assay using values of FInSLO-LA ≥ 1.4 and II ≤ 0.8 in at least two of three independent experiments as the criteria of a sensitizer, which resulted in test accuracies of 82% for the 22 chemicals used and of 88% for the chemicals proposed by European Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods. This newly developed assay is a candidate replacement for animal tests of skin sensitization because of its accuracy, convenience, and high throughput performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-369
Number of pages11
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Dec


  • Contact dermatitis
  • IL-8
  • Luciferase assay
  • Skin sensitizers


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