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Blood. 1989 May 15;73(7):1778-85.

Mast cell typing: demonstration of a distinct hematopoietic cell type and evidence for immunophenotypic relationship to mononuclear phagocytes.

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  • 1I. Medical Department, University of Vienna, Austria.


The immunologic surface marker profile of human mast cells (MCs) was established using a combined toluidine/immunofluorescence staining procedure [49 monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) tested]. Ascites (n = 9) MCs as well as enzymatically dispersed MCs from all organs tested (lung n = 11, skin n = 7, intestinum n = 10) exhibited an identical marker profile. MCs were recognized by MoAbs clustered as CD9 (anti-gp24), CD33 (anti-gp67), and CD45 (anti-gp220) as well as by MoAbs directed against membrane-bound IgE. MoAB YB5B8 (anti-gp145) selectively recognized MCs. Most significantly, however, MCs were stained by MoAbs MAX1 (anti-gp65), MAX3 (anti-gp68), MAX11 (anti-gp65), and MAX24 (anti-gp65). These antibodies bind to surface membrane antigens associated with a late stage of monocyte/macrophage differentiation. Thus, our results provide definite evidence that MCs share surface membrane markers with mononuclear phagocytes. In contrast, MCs are stained neither by lymphatic markers (CD1-8, 10, 19-24) nor by myelomonocytic markers (CD11-17). MCs also lack the interleukin-2 (IL-2) receptor (CD25), the T10 antigen (CD38), and most of the myelocytic markers expressed on peripheral blood (PB) basophils. Thus, MCs displayed a unique phenotype within the hematopoietic system. This new approach enabled us to enrich human lung MCs to a purity greater than 95% by means of negative selection with complement-mediated cell lysis. Purified MCs were subsequently stained with MoAbs and analyzed by flow cytometry, which confirmed the results obtained from the double-staining experiments. We next examined cultured metachromatic cells derived from bone marrow (BM) and peripheral blood colony-forming units (CFU). These metachromatic cells previously could not be classified by morphologic criteria alone and have therefore been termed basophil-like/MC-like cells. In this study, toluidine blue-positive cells obtained from either pooled multipotential colonies (day 14-CFU-GEM) or pooled myelocytic colonies (day 16/17-CFU-GM/G/M) were recognized by MoAbs MY7 (CD13), VIM12 (CD11b), and VIM2, as well as by an anti-IgE MoAb, after preincubation with IgE. In contrast, CFU-derived metachromatic cells were not stained by MoAb YB5B8. This marker profile corresponds to the immunologic phenotype of blood basophils and excluded a detectable formation of mature MCs in colonies derived from cultured hematopoietic stem cells.

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