BACKGROUND: Several attempts to establish a model in mice that reflects nickel allergy in humans have been made. Most models use intradermal injection of nickel in combination with adjuvant to induce nickel allergy. However, such models poorly reflect induction of nickel allergy following long-lasting epicutaneous exposure to nickel.
OBJECTIVE: To develop a mouse model reflecting nickel allergy in humans induced by epicutaneous exposure to nickel, and to investigate the mechanisms involved in such allergic responses.
METHODS: Mice were exposed to NiCl2 on the dorsal side of the ears. Inflammation was evaluated by the swelling and cell infiltration of the ears. T cell responses were determined as numbers of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells in the draining lymph nodes. Localization of nickel was examined by dimethylglyoxime staining.
RESULTS: Epicutaneous exposure to nickel results in prolonged localization of nickel in the epidermis, and induces nickel allergy in mice. The allergic response to nickel following epicutaneous exposure is MyD88-dependent and interleukin (IL)-1 receptor-dependent, but independent of toll-like receptor (TLR)-4.
CONCLUSION: This new model for nickel allergy that reflects epicutaneous exposure to nickel in humans shows that nickel allergy is dependent on MyD88 and IL-1 receptor signalling, but independent of TLR4.