Hazard Assessment of Photoallergens Using GARD™skin

Poster presented at the 2021 World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences

Andy Forreryd, Angelica Johansson, Gretchen Ritacco, Anne Marie Api, Henrik Johansson | SenzaGen AB, 22381 Lund, Sweden; Research Institute for Fragrance Materials, Inc., 50 Tice Boulevard, Woodcliff Lake, NJ, 07677, USA.


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  • The GARDskin assay for assessment of chemical skin sensitizers can be used to predict photoallergens.
  • By implementing a UV-light exposure step into the conventional GARDskin protocols, photoactivation was achieved. Non-irradiated photoallergens remain accurately classified as non-sensitizers.
  • UV-light exposure did not have an impact on classifications on true non-sensitizing and conventional sensitizing controls.


Chemicals of different categories, such as cosmetics and drugs, have the potential to become photoactivated when exposed to UV light, giving rise to otherwise dormant adverse effects such as sensitization. Such chemicals, referred to as photoallergens, causes a Type IV delayed hypersensitivity, typically manifested as allergic contact dermatitis. While in vitro assays for prediction of a chemical’s potential to provoke phototoxicity (photoirritation) have been proposed, there is no recognized assay that specifically predicts photoallergens. Therefore, development of accurate in vitro assays that can detect photoallergens remains a high priority.

The Genomic Allergen Rapid Detection – GARD – platform constitutes a unique framework for classification of numerous immunotoxicity endpoints. The endpoint-specific classification of skin sensitizing chemicals is a well-established application of the platform, referred to as the GARDskin assay. GARDskin utilizes the readout of a genomic biomarker signature of 200 genes, which allows for machine learning-assisted classification of skin sensitizers. The assay is progressing towards regulatory acceptance, and demonstrates high predictive performance.

Here, we present an adaptation of GARD protocols, allowing for assessment of chemical photoallergens. By incorporating UVA exposure during sample preparation, photoactivation of latent photoallergens has been demonstrated. In a first step, protocols were optimized using the photoallergens 6-methylcoumarin and Ketoprofen, exposed to UVA light, both prior to and in association with cellular exposure, along with appropriate radiated/non-radiated controls. Photoallergenicity was accurately predicted in both test chemicals exposed to UVA light, while non-radiated counterparts were accurately classified as non-sensitizers.

In summary, our initial data demonstrates a potential of GARDskin to assess photoallergenicity of chemicals. Further evaluation and optimization of the method are currently in progress, in which an extended panel of fragrances are being studied in a collaboration with the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM).