Developing a framework for assessing chemical respiratory sensitization: a workshop report

Respiratory tract sensitization can have significant acute and chronic health implications. While induction of respiratory sensitization is widely recognized for some chemicals, validated standard methods or frameworks for identifying and characterizing the hazard are not available. A workshop on assessment of respiratory sensitization was held to discuss the current state of science for identification and characterization of respiratory sensitizer hazard, identify information facilitating development of validated standard methods and frameworks, and consider the regulatory and practical risk management needs. Participants agreed on a predominant Th2 immunological mechanism and several steps in respiratory sensitization. Some overlapping cellular events in respiratory and skin sensitization are well understood, but full mechanism(s) remain unavailable. Progress on non-animal approaches to skin sensitization testing, ranging from in vitrosystems, –omics, in silico profiling, and structural profiling were acknowledged. Addressing both induction and elicitation phases remains challenging. Participants identified lack of a unifying dose metric as increasing the difficulty of interpreting dosimetry across exposures. A number of research needs were identified, including an agreed list of respiratory sensitizers and other asthmagens, distinguishing between adverse effects from immune-mediated versus non-immunological mechanisms. A number of themes emerged from the discussion regarding future testing strategies, particularly the need for a tiered framework respiratory sensitizer assessment. These workshop present a basis for moving towards a weight-of-evidence assessment.

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