Skin toxicology and 3Rs-Current challenges for public health protection.
Driven by the fast paced development of complex test systems in vitro, mass spectrometry and omics, we finally have the tools to unravel the molecular events that underlie toxicological adversity. Yet, timely regulatory adaptation of these new tools continues to pose major challenges even for organs readily accessible such as skin. The reasons for this encompass a need for conservatism as well as the need of tests to serve an existing regulatory framework rather than to produce scientific knowledge. It is important to be aware of this in order to align regulatory skin toxicity with the 3R principles more readily. While most chemical safety testing is still based on animal data, regulatory frameworks have seen a strong push towards non-animal approaches. The endpoints corrosion, irritation, sensitisation, absorption and phototoxicity, for example, can now be covered in vitro with the corresponding test guidelines (TGs) being made available by the OECD. However, in vitro approaches tend to be more reductionist. Hence, a combination of several tests is usually preferable to achieve satisfying predictivity. Moreover, the test systems and their combined use need to be standardised and are therefore subject not only to validation but also to the ongoing development of so-called integrated approaches to testing and assessment (IATAs). Concomitantly, skin models are being refined to deliver the complexity required for increased applicability and predictivity. Given the importance of regulatory applicability for 3R-derived approaches to have a long-lasting impact, this review examines the state of regulatory implementation and perspectives, respectively.