Low allergenicity of clonidine impedes studies of sensitization mechanisms in guinea pig models

R. J. Scheper, B. M.E. von Blomberg, J. de Groot, A. R. Goeptar, M. Lang, R. A.J. Oostendorp, D. P. Bruynzeel, R. G.L. van Tol

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12 Scopus citations


During clinical mills, a clonidine transdermal device has been found to induce clonidine‐specific allergic contact dermatitis in up to 25% of patients during a treatment period of 1 year. Using 3 different guinea pig strains, development was attempted of an experimental guinea pig model that would allow for in‐depth studies into the mechanism of sensitization, and a possible role of transdermal device components. Transient low‐level clonidine allergy could be obtained only in a minority of animals, with severe sensitization procedures departing from epicutaneous applications, combined with intradermal (adjuvant) FCA injections. Sensitization was not potentiated by additional booster procedures, including cyclophosphamide pretreatment, nor any of the putative cofactors (UV‐treatments, C. parvum or acetaldehyde involvement) studied. These results suggest that the persistent skin contacts in man with transdermal devices for sustained drug delivery, generate unique conditions favouring the development of allergic contact dermatitis, which are difficult to mimic in experimental animal models. Thus, clinical allergy may develop even lo extremely weak sensitizing drugs that can be safety used orally, and escape most currently available predictive contact allergy animal models Clinical studies remain unavoidable for studying factors that may reduce sensitization rates to more acceptable levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-89
Number of pages9
JournalContact Dermatitis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • allergic contact dermatitis
  • animal models
  • clonidine
  • immunoadjuvants
  • sensitization mechanisms
  • skin tests
  • transdermal drug delivery


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