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Immunity. 2007 Mar;26(3):287-97. Epub 2007 Mar 8.

The sphingosine kinase-sphingosine-1-phosphate axis is a determinant of mast cell function and anaphylaxis.

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Molecular Inflammation Section, Molecular Immunology and Inflammation Branch, NIAMS, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Sphingosine-1-phosphate, a key mediator in immune cell trafficking, is elevated in the lungs of asthmatic patients and regulates pulmonary epithelium permeability. Stimulation of mast cells by allergens induces two mammalian sphingosine kinases (Sphk1 and Sphk2) to produce sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P). Little is known about the individual role of these kinases in regulating immune cell function. Here we show that in mast cells, Sphk2 is required for production of S1P, for calcium influx, for activation of protein kinase C, and for cytokine production and degranulation. However, susceptibility to in vivo anaphylaxis is determined both by S1P within the mast cell compartment and by circulating S1P generated by Sphk1 predominantly from a non-mast cell source(s). Thus, sphingosine kinases are determinants of mast cell responsiveness, demonstrating a previously unrecognized relationship with anaphylaxis.

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