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Drug Discov Today Dis Models. 2011 Spring;8(1):47-55.

Mast Cell Proteases and Inflammation.

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  • 1Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology and Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Missouri, School of Medicine, Columbia, Missouri 65212.


Mast cells are best known for their role in allergic reactions but are also now recognized for their important contributions to a number of disparate inflammatory conditions through the release of inflammatory mediators, serglycin and other proteoglycans, and proteases. Because these tissue resident inflammatory cells express proteases in such great abundance and their enzymatic activity results in cleavage of a multitude of proteins and peptides, which in turn modify tissue function, their substrate specificity, tissue distribution, and mode of action have become the subjects of great interest. Although mast cell protease-dependent proteolysis is critical to host defense against invading pathogens, regulation of these hydrolytic enzymes is essential to limiting self-induced damage as well. Indeed, dysregulated release of mast cell proteases is now recognized to contribute to the pathogenesis of a number of inflammatory conditions including asthma, abdominal aortic aneurysm formation, vessel damage in atherosclerosis and hypertension, arthritis, and ischemia/reperfusion injury. Understanding how mast cell proteases contribute to inflammation will thus help unravel molecular mechanisms that underlie such immunologic disorders and will help identify new therapeutic targets for drug development.

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