Evaluation of changes of cell-surface thiols as a new biomarker for in vitro sensitization test

Mie Suzuki, Morihiko Hirota, Shigenobu Hagino, Hiroshi Itagaki, Setsuya Aiba

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30 Citations (Scopus)


In order to find a novel biomarker for a simple assay to predict skin sensitization, we evaluated cell-surface thiols as a biomarker reflecting intracellular signaling in THP-1 cells (human monocytic cell line). First, we found that a decrease of cell-surface thiols on hapten-treated THP-1 cells was induced in parallel with phosphorylation of p38 MAPK. Next, we confirmed that 2-mercaptoethanol in the culture medium and the differentiation state of THP-1 cells did not affect the changes of cell-surface thiols by hapten. Changes of cell-surface thiols on THP-1 cells were detected after 2 h treatment with most allergens (e.g., DNCB, NiSO4), as well as some non-allergens (e.g., Tween80, benzalkonium chloride), though other non-allergens (e.g., SDS, glycerol) had no effect. When either a significant decrease or increase of cell-surface thiols (more than 15% in each case) was used as a criterion, the results using 36 allergens and 16 non-allergens were in good accordance with those of in vivo assays. Finally, we confirmed that ATP, which is released as a consequence of cytotoxicity, did not affect the changes of cell-surface thiols. Our results suggest that changes of cell-surface thiols may be useful for an in vitro sensitization assay, which we designate as the SH test.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-696
Number of pages10
JournalToxicology in Vitro
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Jun


  • Cell-surface thiols
  • In vitro
  • SH test
  • Skin sensitization
  • THP-1 cells
  • p38 MAPK

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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