The local lymph node assay and the assessment of relative potency: status of validation


Dr David A. Basketter
Unilever Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre
Colworth Park
Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire MK44 1LQ
Tel: 01234264776
Fax: 01234264744


For the prediction of skin sensitization potential, the local lymph node assay (LLNA) is a fully validated alternative to guinea-pig tests. More recently, information from LLNA dose–response analyses has been used to assess the relative potency of skin sensitizing chemicals. These data are then deployed for risk assessment and risk management. In this commentary, the utility and validity of these relative potency measurements are reviewed. It is concluded that the LLNA does provide a valuable assessment of relative sensitizing potency in the form of the estimated concentration of a chemical required to produce a threefold stimulation of draining lymph node cell proliferation compared with concurrent controls (EC3 value) and that all reasonable validation requirements have been addressed successfully. EC3 measurements are reproducible in both intra- and interlaboratory evaluations and are stable over time. It has been shown also, by several independent groups, that EC3 values correlate closely with data on relative human skin sensitization potency. Consequently, the recommendation made here is that LLNA EC3 measurements should now be regarded as a validated method for the determination of the relative potency of skin sensitizing chemicals, a conclusion that has already been reached by a number of independent expert groups.