An in vitro coculture system for the detection of sensitization following aerosol exposure

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Aline Chary
Tommaso Serchi
Elisa Moschini
Jennifer Hennen
Sebastien Cambier
Janine Ezendam
Brunhilde Blömeke
Arno C. Gutleb


The aim of the study was to develop an in vitro model that mimics the alveolar-capillary barrier and that allows assessment of the respiratory sensitizing potential of respiratory sensitizers. The 3D in vitro model cultured at the air liquid interface consists of alveolar type II epithelial cells (A549), endothelial cells (EA.hy926), macrophage-like cells (PMA-differentiated THP-1) and dendritic-like cells (non-differentiated THP-1). This alveolar model was exposed apically to nebulized chemical respiratory sensitizers (Phthalic Anhydride (PA) and TriMellitic Anhydride (TMA)) or irritants (Methyl Salicylate (MeSa) and Acrolein (Acr)) at concentrations inducing at maximum 25% of cytotoxicity. The exposure to respiratory sensitizers induced dendritic cells activation and a specific cytokine release pattern, while the irritants did not. In addition, the cell surface marker OX40L was determined for dendritic like cells activation to identify high molecular weight allergens. With this in vitro model we can postulate a set of promising markers based on the studied compounds that allow the discrimination of chemical respiratory sensitizers from irritants.

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Chary, A., Serchi, T., Moschini, E., Hennen, J., Cambier, S., Ezendam, J., Blömeke, B. and Gutleb, A. (2019) “An in vitro coculture system for the detection of sensitization following aerosol exposure”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation. doi: 10.14573/altex.1901241.