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Chem Immunol Allergy. 2010;95:45-66. doi: 10.1159/000315937. Epub 2010 Jun 1.

Anaphylaxis: mechanisms of mast cell activation.

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Department of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.


Anaphylaxis is a severe systemic allergic response that is rapid in onset and potentially lethal, and that typically is induced by an otherwise innocuous substance. In IgE-dependent and other examples of anaphylaxis, tissue mast cells and circulating basophilic granulocytes (basophils) are thought to represent major (if not the major) sources of the biologically active mediators that contribute to the pathology and, in unfortunate individuals, fatal outcome, of anaphylaxis. In this chapter, we will describe the mechanisms of mast cell (and basophil) activation in anaphylaxis, with a focus on IgE-dependent activation, which is thought to be responsible for most examples of antigen-induced anaphylaxis in humans. We will also discuss the use of mouse models to investigate the mechanisms that can contribute to anaphylaxis in that species in vivo, and the relevance of such mouse studies to human anaphylaxis.

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