3. Immunotoxicity

The toxicogenomics approach for detection of immunotoxicity will provide a useful tool to assess potential immunotoxicity by virtue of the fact that it is likely to cover the broader aspects of potential immunotoxic damage, leading to more reliable risk assessment than the current test systems. In defined rodent models, known immunotoxicants such as immunosuppressive agents chemical sensitizers and. will be quantitatively evaluated for classical immunotoxicity and for changes in gene expression in target organs. As such, this approach offers an alternative for existing animals studies, in the sense that early and comprehensive indicators of various types of immunotoxicity will be detected at an early phase of the exposure in laboratory animal studies.

A next step would be to explore the possibilities to address these same endpoints in in vitro studies. An important difficulty lies in the level of complexity of the immune system, that comprises various cell types at various sites in the organism, with communication through migrating cells and interleukins circulating in various compartments of the body. Yet, the response of the first cellular target of the toxicant may be decisive in the toxicological outcome, and the comprehensive analysis of gene expression profiles in these target cells may provide adequate tools to predict for immunotoxicity. For this purpose, in vitro studies will be performed that are complimentary to the in vivo immunotoxicity studies, investigating the same targets, such as lymphocytes and keratinocytes

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