• Topical imiquimod yields systemic effects due to unintended oral uptake.

      Grine, Lynda; Steeland, Sophie; Van Ryckeghem, Sara; Ballegeer, Marlies; Lienenklaus, Stefan; Weiss, Siegfried; Sanders, Niek N; Vandenbroucke, Roosmarijn E; Libert, Claude; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      Repetitive application of topical imiquimod is used as an experimental model for the induction of psoriasiform skin lesions in mice. The model is characterized by several inflammatory processes, including cytokine production both locally and systemically, cellular infiltration, and splenomegaly. To investigate the production of type I interferons in response to imiquimod-containing Aldara cream, IFNβ-luciferase reporter mice were imaged in vivo and ex vivo. Type I interferons were found to be produced in the skin, but also in the intestinal system caused by unintended ingestion of imiquimod by the mice. Through the use of Elizabethan collars to prevent ingestion, these effects, including psoriasiform lesions were nearly completely prevented. Our findings reveal that topical treatment with Aldara induces a psoriasiform skin inflammation, but that its mode of action depends on ingestion of the chemical, which leads to systemic responses and affects local inflammation. Therefore, potential ingestion of topical treatments during experimental procedures should be taken into account during assessment of cutaneous inflammatory parameters in skin disease models.