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Nat Rev Immunol. 2004 Oct;4(10):787-99.

Mast-cell responses to pathogens.

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Dalhousie Inflammation Group, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Dalhousie University, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building, College Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 1X5, Canada.


Mast cells have mainly been studied in the setting of allergic disease, but the importance of mast cells for host defence against several pathogens has now been well established. The location of mast cells, which are found closely associated with blood vessels, allows them to have a crucial sentinel role in host defence. The mast cell has a unique 'armamentarium' of receptor systems and mediators for responding to pathogen-associated signals. Studies of this intriguing immune-effector cell provide important insights into the complex mechanisms by which appropriate innate and acquired immune responses are initiated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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