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Significant progress has been made in the development and validation of non-animal test methods for skin sensitization assessment. At present, three of the four key events of the adverse outcome pathway (AOP) are assessable by OECD-accepted in vitro methods. The fourth key event describes the immunological response in the draining lymph node where activated dendritic cells present major histocompatibility complex-bound chemically modified peptides to naïve T cells, thereby priming the proliferation of antigen-specific T cells. Despite substantial efforts, modelling and assessing this adaptive immune response to sensitizers with in vitro T cell assays still represents a challenge. The Cosmetics Europe Skin Tolerance Task Force organized a workshop, bringing together academic researchers, method developers, industry representatives and regulatory stakeholders to review the scientific status of T cell-based assays, foster a mutual scientific understanding and conceive new options to assess T cell activation. Participants agreed that current T cell assays have come a long way in predicting immunogenicity, but that further investment and collaboration is required to simplify assays, optimize their sensitivity, better define human donor-to-donor variability and evaluate their value to predict sensitizer potency. Furthermore, the potential role of T cell assays in AOP-based testing strategies and subsequent safety assessment concepts for cosmetic ingredients was discussed. It was agreed that it is currently difficult to anticipate uses of T cell assay data for safety assessment and concluded that experience from case studies on real-life risk assessment scenarios is needed to further consider the usefulness of assessing the fourth AOP key event.
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