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Blood. 2008 Feb 1;111(3):1489-96. Epub 2007 Nov 21.

Indirect involvement of allergen-captured mast cells in antigen presentation.

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  • 1Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6160, USA.


It is generally thought that mast cells influence T-cell activation nonspecifically through the release of inflammatory mediators. In this report, we provide evidence that mast cells may also affect antigen-specific T-cell responses by internalizing immunoglobulin E-bound antigens for presentation to antigen-specific T cells. Surprisingly, T-cell activation did not require that mast cells express major histocompatibility complex class II, indicating that mast cells were not involved in the direct presentation of the internalized antigens. Rather, the antigen captured by mast cells is presented by other major histocompatibility complex class II(+) antigen-presenting cells. To explore how this may occur, we investigated the fate of mast cells stimulated by antigen and found that FcepsilonRI crosslinking enhances mast cell apoptosis. Cell death by antigen-captured mast cells was required for efficient presentation because protection of mast cell death significantly decreased T-cell activation. These results suggest that mast cells may be involved in antigen presentation by acting as an antigen reservoir after antigen capture through specific immunoglobulin E molecules bound to their FcepsilonRI. This mechanism may contribute to how mast cells impact the development of T-cell responses.

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