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Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2003 Aug-Sep;69(2-3):195-205.

The role of mast cells in asthma.

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  • 1Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy, Brigham and Women's Hospital, USA. jboyce@rics.bwh.harvard.edu


While the role of mast cells in allergic reactions is unequivocal, their precise functions in asthma remain controversial. Mast cells uniquely populate all vascularized organs and tissues, including the upper and lower respiratory tree, even in healthy individuals. Histologic evidence suggests that asthma is accompanied by a mast cell hyperplasia in the inflamed mucosal epithelium and the adjacent smooth muscle. The mechanisms responsible for constitutive mast cell development have been partly elucidated. Moreover, both in vitro studies and in vivo disease models indicate that mast cells have a remarkably flexible program of gene expression, and this program can be drastically altered by the T-cell-derived Th2 cytokines relevant to asthma. Moreover, the role of mast cells in innate immunity is now firmly established, and the capacity for numerous microbial pathogens to initiate their activation in vitro and in vivo suggest mechanisms by which microbes could initiate disease exacerbations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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