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World J Surg Oncol. 2003 Nov 18;1(1):25.

Distribution of Mast Cells in Mediastinal Lymph Nodes from Lung Cancer Patients.

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  • 1Department of Surgery II, Miyazaki Medical College, Kihara 5200, Kiyotake, Miyazaki 889-1692 Japan. mtomita@post.miyazaki-med.ac.jp



Mast cells have been documented to have several key functions with regards to malignant neoplasms. However, the functional significance of their accumulation is largely unknown. An analysis of the mast cell profile in mediastinal lymph nodes from lung cancer patients is reported here.


One hundred thirty-four, randomly selected lymph nodes (63 with positive pathological lymph node status) from 39 surgically treated lung cancer patients were examined. All cancer negative nodes were obtained from stage I patients. Mast cells were stained with Alcian blue and safranin O. Metastatic cancer cells were stained using anti-cytokeratin antibody.


Immunohistochemical studies with cytokeratin revealed micro metastasis in 9/71 (12.68%) nodes previously diagnosed as histological negative. In tumor-free mediastinal lymph nodes, the mast cell count was significantly higher than in metastatic nodes. In all cases, mast cells were observed primarily in the T-cell area.


An inverse relationship was observed between the number of mast cells and the amount of tumor tissue. The presence of mast cells primarily in the T-cell area implies a relationship between mast cells and the T-cell system. From the present study it is not possible to conclude whether mast cells in lymph nodes are for or against tumor spread.

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