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Metal Allergens of Growing Significance: Epidemiology, Immunotoxicology, Strategies for Testing and Prevention

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Metal-induced allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is expressed in a wide range of cutaneous reactions following dermal and systemic exposure to products such as cosmetics and tattoos, detergents, jewellery and piercing, leather tanning, articular prostheses and dental implants. Apart from the well known significance of nickel in developing ACD, other metals such as aluminium, beryllium, chromium, cobalt, copper, gold, iridium, mercury, palladium, platinum, rhodium and titanium represented emerging causes of skin hypersensitivity. Despite the European Union directives that limit the total nickel content in jewellery alloys, the water soluble chromium (VI) in cement, and metals banned in cosmetics, the diffusion of metal-induced ACD remained quite high. On this basis, a review on the epidemiology of metal allergens, the types of exposure, the skin penetration, the immune response, and the protein interaction is motivated. Moreover, in vivo and in vitro tests for the identification and potency of skin-sensitizing metals are here reviewed in a risk assessment framework for the protection of consumer's health. Avenues for ACD prevention and therapy such as observance of maximum allowable metal levels, optimization of metallurgic characteristics, efficacy of chelating agents and personal protection are also discussed.

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Keywords: Allergic contact dermatitis; epidemiology; human health; metals; prevention

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2008

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  • Inflammation & Allergy - Drug Targets aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology, genomics and biochemistry of contemporary molecular targets involved in inflammation and allergy e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on drug targets involved in inflammation and allergy. As the discovery, identification, characterization and validation of novel human drug targets for anti-inflammation and allergy drug discovery continues to grow, this journal has become essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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