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J Immunol. 2000 Jan 1;164(1):43-8.

Human intestinal mast cells are capable of producing different cytokine profiles: role of IgE receptor cross-linking and IL-4.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Medical School of Hannover, Germany.


Mast cells are recognized as a new type of immunoregulatory cells capable of producing different cytokines. So far, little is known about the cytokine profile of mature human mast cells isolated from intestinal tissue and cultured in the presence of stem cell factor (SCF). We observed that these cells express the proinflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta, IL-6, IL-8, IL-16, and IL-18 without further stimulation. Both IgE-dependent and IgE-independent agonists (e.g., Gram-negative bacteria) enhanced expression of TNF-alpha. Another set of cytokines consisting of IL-3, IL-5, IL-9, and IL-13 was expressed following activation by IgE receptor cross-linking. If mast cells were cultured in the presence of IL-4 and SCF, the production and release of IL-3, IL-5, and IL-13 was increased up to 4-fold compared with mast cells cultured with SCF alone. By contrast, IL-6 expression was completely blocked in response to culture with IL-4. In summary, our data show that mature human mast cells produce proinflammatory cytokines that may be up-regulated following triggering with IgE-independent agonists such as bacteria, whereas activation by IgE receptor cross-linking results in the expression of Th2-type cytokines. IL-4 enhances the expression of Th2-type cytokines but does not affect or even down-regulates proinflammatory cytokines.

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