Skin permeation and distribution of three of the most common skin sensitizers were investigated using a previously developed animal-free exposure method combined with imaging mass spectrometry. Nickel, cobalt, and chromium (III) salts were dissolved in a buffer and exposed to human skin ex vivo, to be analysed using time of flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS). The findings demonstrate that metal haptens mainly accumulated in the stratum corneum, however, all three metal sensitizers could also be detected in the epidermis. This method provided permeation profiles in human skin for known sensitizers, on a level of detail that is not possible to achieve by other means. The findings show that the permeation profiles are different, despite these sensitizers being all metal ions and common causes of contact allergy. Studying skin uptake by only considering penetration through the skin might therefore not give accurate results.
Skin permeation of nickel, cobalt and chromium salts in ex vivo human skin, visualized using mass spectrometry imaging
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