Researchers at the Institute for Hygiene and Biotechnology at the Germany-based Hohenstein Textile
Testing Institute GmbH & Co. KG have developed a method to analyze textiles for specific
allergens and assess the residual allergic potential of other chemical by-products and combinations
of substances in other products. The selective in vitro cell culture test also can assess a
textile’s allergenic potential when it is processed using unknown dyes, dye components or other
chemicals for which there is no available sensitization data.
To test for allergens in textiles, raw materials and other products, scientists use special
immune cells that function as “guard cells” for the skin. The guard cells, which are kept in a cell
culture, are able to absorb external antigens penetrating the skin from neighboring epidermal
cells, then identify them and cause an immune response. If the cells recognize a substance as an
allergen, special marker molecules on their surface will allow the scientists to identify the
substance and classify it as an allergen.
The new test method supplements the existing EN ISO 10993-10 epicutaneous test for contact
allergies in textile medical products. The allergen test – the fourth effect-based test available
from the Hohenstein Institute, along with the established tests for cell damage, DNA damage and
irritation – provides an additional method of testing for harmful substances carried out under
Oeko-Tex® standard 100.
Manufacturers whose products are tested successfully will receive the Hohenstein quality
label “Skin-friendly – suitable for allergy suffers.”
March 17, 2009