Methyl methacrylate and respiratory sensitization: A Critical review

Jonathan Borak, Cheryl Fields, Larry S. Andrews, Mark A. Pemberton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Methyl methacrylate (MMA) is a respiratory irritant and dermal sensitizer that has been associated with occupational asthma in a small number of case reports. Those reports have raised concern that it might be a respiratory sensitizer. To better understand that possibility, we reviewed the in silico, in chemico, in vitro, and in vivo toxicology literature, and also epidemiologic and occupational medicine reports related to the respiratory effects of MMA. Numerous in silico and in chemico studies indicate that MMA is unlikely to be a respiratory sensitizer. The few in vitro studies suggest that MMA has generally weak effects. In vivo studies have documented contact skin sensitization, nonspecific cytotoxicity, and weakly positive responses on local lymph node assay; guinea pig and mouse inhalation sensitization tests have not been performed. Cohort and cross-sectional worker studies reported irritation of eyes, nose, and upper respiratory tract associated with short-term peaks exposures, but little evidence for respiratory sensitization or asthma. Nineteen case reports described asthma, laryngitis, or hypersensitivity pneumonitis in MMA-exposed workers; however, exposures were either not well described or involved mixtures containing more reactive respiratory sensitizers and irritants. The weight of evidence, both experimental and observational, argues that MMA is not a respiratory sensitizer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-268
Number of pages39
JournalCritical Reviews in Toxicology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Acrylates
  • LLNA
  • asthma
  • cross-reactivity
  • epidemiology
  • exposure assessment
  • in chemico
  • in silico
  • mechanisms
  • metabolism
  • mixtures
  • occupational respiratory irritation
  • toxicology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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