Thimerosal positivities: The role of organomercury alkyl compounds

B. Santucci, C. Cannistraci, A. Cristaudo, E. Camera, M. Picardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Contact allergy to thimerosal (TH) has not been considered a marker for mercury allergy, since there is a low degree of cross-sensitivity to inorganic as well as to organic mercury salts. 40 subjects, who previously gave a positive patch test reaction only to thimerosal 0.1% pet. (Hermal), when simultaneously repatch-tested to solutions containing TH, mersalyl acid, p-amino-phenylmercuric acid, mercuric acetate and thiosalicylic acid, respectively, gave positive reactions only to TH. 36 out of 40 subjects were divided into 2 groups of 18 subjects and simultaneously repatch-tested to solutions containing TH, methylmercury chloride (MeHgCl), thiosalicylic acid, and, ethylmercury chloride (EtHgCl), respectively. EtHSCl was tested in the Ist group at 0.031% and in the 2nd group at 0.015%. The results showed that all subjects gave concomitant positive reactions to TH, EtHgCl and MeHgCl. EtHgCl 0.031% gave a higher number of +++ reactions than EtHECl 0.015%, underlining the role of the solvent in these reactions. Patch test results in 300 consecutive patients to a standard of subjects. In conclusion, our data seem to suggest that the positive reactions to TH found in our patients were due to EtHgCl, and that the structural similarities with MeHgCl were so close that the skin reacted against each as if they were identical.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-328
Number of pages4
JournalContact Dermatitis
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Cross-sensitivity
  • Ethylmercury chloride
  • Irritant contact dermatitis
  • Methylmercury chloride
  • Organomercury alkyl compounds
  • Thimerosal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Toxicology
  • Immunology


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