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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2007 Dec 15;120(3-4):80-92. Epub 2007 Jul 17.

Characterization of mast cell numbers and subtypes in biopsies from the gastrointestinal tract of dogs with lymphocytic-plasmacytic or eosinophilic gastroenterocolitis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, B├╝nteweg 17, D-30559 Hannover, Germany.


It has been suggested but not proven that hypersensitivity type I reactions are involved in the pathogenesis of canine inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The main effector cells in type I hypersensitivity reactions are mast cells (MCs). Canine MCs, as human MCs, can be subdivided into three subtypes according to their content of mast cell-specific proteases: tryptase (MCT), chymase (MCC), or tryptase and chymase bearing MCs (MCTC). In this study, numbers and subsets of mast cells were investigated in biopsies from the gastrointestinal tract of dogs with histopathologically confirmed lymphocytic-plasmacytic enteritis (LPE) (n=4), lymphocytic-plasmacytic colitis (LPC) (n=1) and eosinophilic gastroenterocolitis (EGE) (n=11). Paraffin sections of formalin-fixed samples from the stomach, small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, ileum) and colon were stained by using a metachromatic staining method (kresylecht-violet; KEV) and a combined enzyme histochemical and immunohistochemical technique for chymase and tryptase. Additionally, immunohistochemistry with antibodies against T cells (CD3), macrophages (myeloid/histiocyte antigen) and IgA, IgG and IgM bearing cells was conducted. Quantitative evaluation of mast cells and semiquantitative scoring of immunohistochemically stained cells were performed. Between the two histopathologically defined groups clear differences concerning mast cell numbers were detected. In most affected intestinal tissue locations of dogs with LPE/LPC a decrease in metachromatically (kresylecht-violet) stained granule-containing MCs and immunohistochemically stained MCT,C,TC was found. This reduction could be due to mast cell degranulation, a T helper cell 1 dominated reaction pattern or a "thinning out" due to increasing T cells, IgA and IgG bearing cells. Dogs with EGE displayed higher variability in mast cell numbers but most of the affected large and small intestinal locations had increased numbers of MCs. In these cases, T cells, IgA bearing cells and macrophages also increased. Increased numbers of MCs and eosinophils seen in the intestinal mucosa of dogs with EGE could indicate the presence of a type I hypersensitivity reaction (T helper cell 2 pattern) in response to dietary antigens. Changes in cell numbers occurred also in unaffected locations of dogs with LPE/LPC and EGE which showed reduced MCT,C,TC, increased KEV positive cells and partially increased leucocytes and macrophages.

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