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Allergy Asthma Proc. 2001 May-Jun;22(3):115-9.

Mast cells in allergy and host defense.

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Laboratory of Allergic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Building 10, Room 11C207, 10 Center Drive, MSC-1881, Bethesda, MD 20892-1881, USA.


Mast cells have been implicated in the pathogenesis of allergic diseases and in inflammatory responses associated with pathological immune and disease-related processes including fibrosis, autoimmune pathology, and neoplasia. Recent findings in animal models of bacterial infection also suggest that mast cells may have a protective role in host defense against pathogens in innate immunity along with the probable role of mast cells in acquired immunity against parasitic infections. Mast cells are strategically located at the host-environment interface and may provide an early defense against an invading pathogen. Mast cells express an array of adhesion and immune receptors that may assist in the recognition of invading pathogens. When activated, these cells then synthesize and release key immunoregulatory cytokines, one consequence of which is to mobilize a rapid and vigorous inflammatory response. However, although it has been demonstrated that mast cells may have a role in innate immunity in defined in vitro and animal models, it remains to be determined whether mast cells are protective in innate immune responses in humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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