THP-1 monocytes but not macrophages as a potential alternative for CD34^+ dendritic cells to identify chemical skin sensitizers
Early detection of the sensitizing potential of chemicals is an emerging issue for chemical, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. In our institute, an in vitro classification model for prediction of chemical-induced skin sensitization based on gene expression signatures in human CD34^+ progenitor-derived dendritic cells (DC) has been developed. This primary cell model is able to closely mimic the induction phase of sensitization by Langerhans cells in the skin, but it has drawbacks, such as the availability of cord blood. The aim of this study was to investigate whether human in vitro cultured THP-1 monocytes or macrophages display a similar expression profile for 13 predictive gene markers previously identified in DC and whether they also possess a discriminating capacity towards skin sensitizers and non-sensitizers based on these marker genes. To this end, the cell models were exposed to 5 skin sensitizers (ammonium hexachloroplatinate IV, 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene, eugenol, para-phenylenediamine, and tetramethylthiuram disulfide) and 5 non-sensitizers (l-glutamic acid, methyl salicylate, sodium dodecyl sulfate, tributyltin chloride, and zinc sulfate) for 6, 10, and 24 h, and mRNA expression of the 13 genes was analyzed using real-time RT-PCR. The transcriptional response of 7 out of 13 genes in THP-1 monocytes was significantly correlated with DC, whereas only 2 out of 13 genes in THP-1 macrophages. After a cross-validation of a discriminant analysis of the gene expression profiles in the THP-1 monocytes, this cell model demonstrated to also have a capacity to distinguish skin sensitizers from non-sensitizers. However, the DC model was superior to the monocyte model for discrimination of (non-)sensitizing chemicals.
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