The human mast cell: functions in physiology and disease.

G. Krishnaswamy, J. Kelley, D. Johnson, G. Youngberg, W. Stone, S. K. Huang, J. Bieber, D. S. Chi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

190 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)D1109-1127
JournalFrontiers in bioscience : a journal and virtual library
Publication statusPublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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