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Am J Pathol. 1999 Oct;155(4):1195-204.

Tryptase-chymase double-positive human mast cells express the eotaxin receptor CCR3 and are attracted by CCR3-binding chemokines.

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Department of Physiopathology, Section of Clinical Immunology, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.


Eosinophils, basophils, and Th2 cells express the chemokine receptor CCR3, which binds eotaxin, RANTES, and some other chemokines. Using immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry, we demonstrate that CCR3 is also expressed by a variable proportion of human mast cells in gut, skin, and lung tissue. By contrast, with the same anti-CCR3 antibody (B711), CCR3 was poorly if at all detectable on human Th2 cells in vitro and in vivo. Eotaxin neither induced histamine release from purified human mast cells nor increased anti-IgE-stimulated histamine secretion. However, both eotaxin and RANTES elicited mast cell migration in vitro with a similar efficacy. High percentages of CCR3-expressing mast cells were present in the skin and in the intestinal submucosa; much lower percentages were found in the intestinal mucosa and in lung interstitium. Double immunostaining with anti-CCR3 and anti-chymase antibody showed that the vast majority of CCR3-expressing mast cells in the various tissues examined were tryptase-chymase double-positive. Therefore, tryptase-chymase double-positive mast cells express CCR3 and are attracted by CCR3-binding chemokines, eotaxin, and RANTES. Our findings indicate that these chemokines may play an important role in the differentiation and/or migration of this mast cell subset in connective tissues, as well as in sites of allergic inflammation.

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