Open Access
The human mast cell: functions in physiology and disease
G Krishnaswamy1,J Kelley1,D Johnson1,G Youngberg1,W Stone1,S K Huang1,J Bieber1,D S Chi1
The Department of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee 37614-1709, USA.
DOI: 10.2741/krishnas Volume 6 Issue 3, pp.1109-1127
Published: 01 September 2001

Mast cells are multifunctional, tissue-dwelling cells capable of secreting a wide variety of mediators. They develop from bone marrow-derived progenitor cells, primed with stem cell factor (SCF), which mediates its actions by interacting with the SCF receptor or c-kit on the cell surface. Mast cells continue their maturation and differentiation in peripheral tissue, developing into two well described subsets of cells, MCT and MCTC cells, varying in content of tryptase and chymase as well as in immunobiology. Mast cells are activated by numerous stimuli, including antigen (acting via the high affinity IgE receptor, Fc?RI), superoxides, complement proteins, neuropeptides and lipoproteins resulting in activation and degranulation. Following activation, these cells express mediators such as histamine, leukotrienes and prostanoids, as well as proteases, and many cytokines and chemokines, pivotal to the genesis of an inflammatory response. Recent data suggests that mast cells may play an active role in such diverse diseases as atherosclerosis, malignancy, asthma, pulmonary fibrosis and arthritis. Mast cells directly interact with bacteria and appear to play a vital role in host defense against pathogens. Drugs, such as glucocorticoids, cyclosporine and cromolyn have been demonstrated to have inhibitory effects on mast cell degranulation or mediator release.

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G Krishnaswamy, J Kelley, D Johnson, G Youngberg, W Stone, S K Huang, J Bieber, D S Chi. The human mast cell: functions in physiology and disease. Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark. 2001. 6(3); 1109-1127.