Toxicology in vitro : an international journal published in association with BIBRA

Chemicals inducing acute irritant contact dermatitis mobilize intracellular calcium in human keratinocytes.

PMID 22906572


Intracellular Ca(2+) increase is a common feature of multiple cellular pathways associated with receptor and channel activation, mediator secretion and gene regulation. We investigated the possibility of using this Ca(2+) signal as a biomarker for a reaction to chemical irritants of normal human keratinocytes (NHK) in submerged primary cell culture. We tested 14 referenced chemical compounds classified as strong (seven), weak (four) or non- (three) irritants in acute irritant contact dermatitis. We found that the strong irritant compounds tested at 20-40 mM induced an intracellular Ca(2+) increase measurable by spectrofluorimetry in an automated test. Weak and non-irritant compounds however did not increase intracellular Ca(2+) concentration. We further investigated the mechanisms by which the amine heptylamine, classified as a R34 corrosive compound, increases intracellular Ca(2+). Heptylamine (20mM) induced an ATP release that persisted in the absence of intra- and extra-cellular Ca(2+). In addition, we found that this ATP activates NHK purinergic receptors that subsequently cause the increase in intracellular Ca(2+) from sarcoplasmic reticular stores. We conclude that measuring the intracellular Ca(2+) concentration in NHK is a suitable and easy way of determining any potential reaction to soluble chemical compounds.