The Role of Mast Cells in Inflammation and Homeostasis

  • Angus J. MacDonald
  • Fiona L. Wills
  • Tong-Jun Lin
  • A. Dean Befus
Chapter

Abstract

The mast cell (MC) is a major effector of inflammation. Therefore, understanding its regulation and interplay with other cells is imperative to the management of inflammatory disease. MC populations are heterogeneous with distinct phenotypes tailored by the microenvironment to required functions: they are influenced by mediators produced by T- and B-lymphocytes, stromal, and inflammatory cells, and in turn can modulate the environment through production of cytokines and other molecules. This heterogeneity is best exemplified in the rat, where two highly divergent phenotypes, the connective tissue mast cell (CTMC) and the mucosal mast cell (MMC), have been well characterized and demonstrate many functional and morphological differences. The location of MC adjacent to blood vessels, smooth muscle, mucosal surfaces, and nerve endings (1,2) puts them in an ideal setting to effect regulatory functions by releasing their mediators (e.g., biogenic amines, arachidonic acid metabolites, proteoglycans, proteinases, cytokines, etc.) in controlled amounts. These same mediators, however, released in large amounts under conditions of inflammation, can deleteriously affect other cells and tissues. To elucidate the function of the MC, its contributions to acute and chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibrosis, host defenses to parasitic infection, tissue remodelling, and allergic diseases, including asthma, conjunctivitis, rhinitis, and urticaria, in addition to the complexity of its roles in homeostasis and immunoregulation must be addressed (2–4).Most recently the MC has also been implicated in defense against bacterial pathogens, through release of prestored mediators, resulting in the recruitment of other leukocytes to the site of infection (5,6) This review addresses what is known about the functions of various MC subtypes in the underlying process of inflammation common to these pathophysiologic conditions.

Keywords

Mast Cell Nerve Growth Factor Stem Cell Factor Human Mast Cell Mucosal Mast Cell 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angus J. MacDonald
  • Fiona L. Wills
  • Tong-Jun Lin
  • A. Dean Befus

There are no affiliations available

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