The relationship between Nickel and Chromium exposure and contact dermatitis

A problem presented at the UK MMSG Strathclyde 2004.

Presented by:
Susan Franks (Health and Safety Laboratory)
Angela Jones (Health and Safety Laboratory)
S Franks, A Jones, M Tindall, J Ward

Problem Description

Occupational contact dermatitis (OCD) is a common and important health problem for workers and employers, and is caused byan adverse reaction of the skin following dermal contact with workplace chemical agents. Nickel and chromium are the most common causative agents, and are known to cause both irritant and allergic responses.

The study group was asked to use mathematical modelling to predict in vitro data, to test a hypothesis on the different response to nickel and chromium, to consider the effects of increased and intermittent exposure, and to consider what factors might influence the extent of inflammation following contact.

Study Group Report

We have formulated a model to describe the processes involved in contact dermatitis. The main aim is to compare irritant and allergic responses observed by skin in contact with chromium and nickel. The model is in the early stages and only some of the issues identified have been addressed. To address the missing issues, extensions will be required to an already complicated model. The two key factors that are required are (i) skin cell healing, and (ii) the incorporation of cytokine production repression by healthy cells. There are also a large number of parameters, for which we have estimates for very few.

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Follow-Up Activities

The following publications have been written as a result of this problem:

A mathematical model of the in vitro keratinocyte response to chromium and nichol exposure
SJ Franks, JP Ward, MJ Tindall, JR King, A Curtis & GS Evans (2008)
Toxicology in vitro 22, 1088–1093.