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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2001 Dec;281(6):L1313-23.

Human mast cell and airway smooth muscle cell interactions: implications for asthma.

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  • 1Respiratory Research Group, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia.


Asthma is characterized by inflammation, hyperresponsiveness, and remodeling of the airway. Human mast cells (HMCs) play a central role in all of these changes by releasing mediators that cause exaggerated bronchoconstriction, induce human airway smooth muscle (HASM) cell proliferation, and recruit and activate inflammatory cells. Moreover, the number of HMCs present on asthmatic HASM is increased compared with that on nonasthmatic HASM. HASM cells also have the potential to actively participate in the inflammatory process by synthesizing cytokines and chemokines and expressing surface molecules, which have the capacity to perpetuate the inflammatory mechanisms present in asthma. This review specifically examines how the mediators of HMCs have the capacity to modulate many functions of HASM; how the synthetic function of HASM, particularly through the release and expression of stem cell factor, has the potential to influence HMC number and activation in an extraordinarily potent and proinflammatory manner; and how these interactions between HMCs and HASM have potential consequences for airway structure and inflammation relevant to the disease process of asthma.

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