A histopathologic evaluation of guinea pig skin following exposure to sulphur mustard and lewisite


  1. Nation, P.N.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Suffield, Ralston ALTA (CAN);Veterinary Pathology Lab, Edmonton Alta (CAN)
Microscopic examination was conducted on a series of skin samples from hairless guinea pigs after dermal exposure to sulfur mustard and Lewisite for different lengths of time. Samples were taken at different times following each exposure. There was a stark quantitative contrast between the two agents in the microscopic lesions that were produced under the experimental conditions employed. Lewisite in the concentrations employed caused the most severe damage, with ulceration of the epidermis and dermis at all exposure times at which samples were collected and all elapsed times following exposure. In most samples the epidermis was completely lost, and the dermis was exposed. Inflammatory changes that developed during the observation period were minimal in comparison to the amount of tissue damage that had occurred. In contrast, changes induced by sulfur mustard under the same experimental conditions were not as severe, and there was a greater degree of tissue reaction observed. The reaction to sulfur mustard consisted of both degenerative and reactive changes in the stratum spinosum and the stratum basale of the epidermis, and inflammation in the dermis. This was roughly dose dependent at exposure times of two and four minutes, but surprisingly, an exposure time of six minutes resulted in less overall epithelial damage than at the shorter exposure times.

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Chemical warfare;Chemical warfare agents;Sulfur mustard;Mustard gas;Lewisite;Vesicants;Pathology;Histopathology;Skin
Report Number
DRDC-SUFFIELD-CR-2002-154 — Contract Report
Date of publication
01 Feb 2002
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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