Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association

Dermal toxicity elicited by phthalates: evaluation of skin absorption, immunohistology, and functional proteomics.

PMID 24384410


The toxicity of phthalates is an important concern in the fields of environmental health and toxicology. Dermal exposure via skin care products, soil, and dust is a main route for phthalate delivery. We had explored the effect of topically-applied phthalates on skin absorption and toxicity. Immunohistology, functional proteomics, and Western blotting were employed as methodologies for validating phthalate toxicity. Among 5 phthalates tested, di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) showed the highest skin reservoir. Only diethyl phthalate (DEP) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) could penetrate across skin. Strat-M(®) membrane could be used as permeation barrier for predicting phthalate penetration through skin. The accumulation of DEHP in hair follicles was ∼15nmol/cm(2), which was significantly greater than DBP and DEP. DBP induced apoptosis of keratinocytes and fibroblasts via caspase-3 activation. This result was confirmed by downregulation of 14-3-3 and immunohistology of TUNEL. On the other hand, the HSP60 overexpression and immunostaining of COX-2 suggested inflammatory response induced by DEP and DEHP. The proteomic profiling verified the role of calcium homeostasis on skin inflammation. Some proteins investigated in this study can be sensitive biomarkers for dermal toxicity of phthalates. These included HSPs, 14-3-3, and cytokeratin. This work provided novel platforms for examining phthalate toxicity on skin.