GARD®skin Dose-Response for Photosensitization: ​Assessment of Reference Photoirritants and Photoallergens

Presented at SOT 2023

GARD®skin Dose-Response for Photosensitization: ​Assessment of Reference Photoirritants and Photoallergens

Tim Lindberg1, Gretchen Ritacco2, Anders Jerre1, Robin Gradin1, Andy Forreryd1, Henrik Johansson1, Anne Marie Api 1SenzaGen, Lund, Sweden, 2Research Institute for Fragrance Materials. Woodcliff lake, NJ, USA

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  • Increase in cytotoxicity after UV exposure strongly linked with predominantly photo irritating properties.
  • Decrease in GARDskin Dose-Response cDV0-value after UV exposure indicative of photoallergenic properties​.


Dermal exposure to certain chemical compounds, so-called sensitizers, can give rise to adverse outcomes induced by an immunological response towards the specific compound. One such class of compounds, photosensitizers, needs to be activated by UV rays to elicit an immune response. Although rare in occurrence, it is a critical human health endpoint in need of investigation to limit potential exposures. Other phototoxic skin reactions include photoirritation, which is manifested as a one-time occurrence at the site of exposure that goes away over time. While testing schemes for photoirritation are clear, testing for photosensitization remains a challenge and no established in vitro model to evaluate this endpoint currently exists. For risk management purposes, distinguishing between phototoxic properties is important, as concentration limits can be set for photoirritants whereas fragrance photoallergens have historically been banned. 

The GARDskin assay is a next-generation in vitro method for hazard classification of conventional skin sensitizers, included in OECD TG 442E. The assay is based on a human dendritic -like cell line and combines genomics and machine learning to achieve a high predictive performance with a large applicability domain. The GARDskin Dose-Response assay is based on the validated GARDskin protocols but instead of giving a binary classification it provides quantitative information about the lowest concentration needed to induce a positive classification in the assay, termed the cDV0 concentration. To investigate phototoxicity, an extra UV-exposure step was added to the original protocol, with photosensitization determined by a drop in cDV0 concentration after UV-exposure, i.e., the cDV0 concentration of the specific compound is lower after UV-exposure than in the non-exposed counterpart.  

The study presented here aimed at investigating the applicability of the GARDskin Photo Dose-Response assay to correctly assess photoallergens and distinguish them from photoirritant effects. Previous studies have indicated that a shift in cytotoxic profile after UV-exposure may indicate a predominantly photoirritant activity rather than photosensitizing and this was also investigated in the present study. Six reference photoirritants and six reference photoallergens were investigated using the GARD®skin Dose-Response assay in combination with a UV irradiation protocol. Cytotoxic profiles and cDV0-values were established for each compound in the presence and absence of UV exposure. 5 out of 6 photoirritants were correctly predicted based on their cytotoxic profile while 3 out of 6 photoallergens where correctly predicted based on the decrease in cDV0-value after UV-exposure. In conclusion, functionality of combining GARDskin Dose-Response protocols with UV irradiation to investigate phototoxicity was shown. Further, photoirritant effects were strongly correlated to a shift in cytotoxic profile after UV-exposure and a decrease in cDV0 values after UV-exposure may indicate on photosensitizing effects. However, further work may be warranted to establish a final prediction model for photosensitization.  

Keywords: Predictive Toxicology, GARDskin, Phototoxicity, Quantitative Risk Assesment