Health safety of parabens evaluated by selected in vitro methods

L. Svobodova, K. Kejlova, M. Rucki, J. Chrz, P. Kubincova, M. Dvorakova, H. Kolarova, D. Jirova

Seven selected parabens (4 allowed, 3 banned in cosmetics) were tested in order to confirm and expand historical data on their toxicological properties and safety. The aim was to apply novel in vitro methods, which have been sufficiently technically and scientifically validated for the purposes of toxicological testing of chemicals. The study included several toxicological endpoints such as skin/eye irritation, skin sensitization, endocrine disruption and genotoxicity. The battery of selected methods comprised regulatory accepted EpiDerm™ skin model (OECD TG 439); EpiOcular™ corneal model (OECD TG 492) and scientifically valid test method HET-CAM (DB-ALM Protocol No. 47); in chemico test DPRA (OECD TG 442C); in vitro test LuSens (OECD TG 442D) and in vitro test h-CLAT (OECD TG 442E); Ames MPF™ (Xenometrix) and XenoScreen YES/YAS (Xenometrix). Overall, none of the 4 allowed parabens exhibited skin/eye irritation or genotoxicity. However, all allowed parabens in cosmetics were predicted as samples with potentially sensitizing properties in the LuSens and h-CLAT test methods, but not confirmed by DPRA. Endocrine disruption was recorded only at high concentrations, whereas methyl paraben and ethyl paraben exhibited the lowest activity. This study confirmed the safety of use of the allowed parabens in the highest recommended concentrations in cosmetics or pharmaceuticals.


EpiDerm (EPI-200-SIT), OECD TG 439, EpiOcular (OCL-200-EIT), OECD TG 492, skin irritation testing, ocular irritation, parabens, preservatives

Materials Tested

Methyl-4-hydroxybenzoate, Ethyl-4-hydroxybenzoate, Butyl-4-hydroxybenzoate, Isobutyl-4-hydroxybenzoate, Propyl-4-hydroxybenzoate, Isopropyl-4-hydroxybenzoate, Benzyl-4-hydroxybenzoate

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