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Int J Cardiol. 2001 Mar;78(1):75-80.

No long-lasting or intermittent mast cell activation in acute coronary syndromes.

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Department of Cardiology, University Hospital Groningen, NL-9700 RB Groningen, The Netherlands.



Unstable coronary syndromes, such as acute myocardial infarction and unstable angina pectoris are mostly due to rupture of an atherosclerotic plaque. Recently mast cells were found to participate actively in the inflammatory process of atherosclerosis by excreting proteolytic and pro-inflammatory substances with the ability to cause plaque instability and rupture. Mast cell activity can be determined by measuring serum levels of tryptase, as has been demonstrated in patients with anaphylaxis and mastcytosis.


Acute coronary events (acute myocardial infarction and unstable angina pectoris) are associated with increased mast cell activity, reflected by elevated serum tryptase levels.


Serum levels of tryptase were determined in the following three groups of patients: 13 patients with acute myocardial infarction, 10 patients with unstable angina pectoris, and 14 patients without ischaemic cardiovascular disease who were used as controls. Patients with known IgE mediated allergic diseases and/or anti-histaminical drugs were excluded.


The groups were comparable for sex, blood pressure, smoking and cholesterol levels. The controls tended to be younger (P=0.05). Levels of tryptase did not differ between patients with acute myocardial infarction (7.9+/-4.6 microg/l), unstable angina pectoris (6.0+/-2.1 microg/l) or controls (6.9+/-4.1 microg/l), nor could a relation with levels of C-reactive protein be demonstrated.


Serum levels of tryptase are not elevated in patients with acute coronary syndromes. This implies that increased mast cell activity, if any, in unstable coronary syndromes is not reflected systemically. Other, more specific methods will be needed to determine the activity of the mast cell in vivo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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