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J Immunol. 2001 Oct 1;167(7):4008-16.

Human mast cells release metalloproteinase-9 on contact with activated T cells: juxtacrine regulation by TNF-alpha.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Meir General Hospital, Kfar-Saba, 44281 Israel.


Mast cells, essential effector cells in allergic inflammation, have been found to be activated in T cell-mediated inflammatory processes in accordance with their residence in close physical proximity to T cells. We have recently reported that mast cells release granule-associated mediators and TNF-alpha upon direct contact with activated T cells. This data suggested an unrecognized activation pathway, where mast cells may be activated during T cell-mediated inflammation. Herein, we show that this cell-cell contact results in the release of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 and the MMP inhibitor tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 from HMC-1 human mast cells or from mature peripheral blood-derived human mast cells. The expression and release of these mediators, as well as of beta-hexosaminidase and several cytokines, were also induced when mast cells were incubated with cell membranes isolated from activated, but not resting, T cells. Subcellular fractionation revealed that the mature form of MMP-9 cofractionated with histamine and tryptase, indicating its localization within the secretory granules. MMP-9 release was first detected at 6 h and peaked at 22 h of incubation with activated T cell membranes, while TNF-alpha release peaked after only 6 h. Anti-TNF-alpha mAb inhibited the T cell membrane-induced MMP-9 release, indicating a possible autocrine regulation of MMP release by mast cell TNF-alpha. This cascade of events, whereby mast cells are activated by T cells to release cytokines and MMP-9, which are known to be essential for leukocyte extravasation and recruitment to affected sites, points to an important immunoregulatory function of mast cells within the context of T cell-mediated inflammatory processes.

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