Use of Cytokines in Dermatotoxicology
Cytokines are a diverse family of inducible glycoproteins, produced by various cell types, which mediate local interaction and distant communication between cellular elements of immune and inflammatory responses. This chapter describes many methods and test systems used by investigators to study the role of cytokines in dermatotoxicology. Bioassays are available to assess cytokine expression by a variety of human epidermal cell types. The role of cytokines has been of particular interest to investigators interested in trying to better understand the underlying mechanisms of allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) and irritant contact dermatitis. In contrast to ACD, irritant contact dermatitis is caused by chemicals that produce a local inflammatory response in the skin without the involvement of an antigen-specific immunologic mechanism. The presence of cytokines in cryostat sections of punch biopsies or cytospins of cell suspensions can be detected by immunohistochemical-staining procedures with anticytokine monoclonal antibodies. Flow cytometry has advantages over traditional immunohistochemical techniques in that it provides a more objective assessment.