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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e49767. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049767. Epub 2012 Dec 17.

Stimulated human mast cells secrete mitochondrial components that have autocrine and paracrine inflammatory actions.

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Molecular Immunopharmacology and Drug Discovery Laboratory, Department of Molecular Physiology and Pharmacology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.


Mast cells are hematopoietically-derived tissue immune cells that participate in acquired and innate immunity, as well as in inflammation through release of many chemokines and cytokines, especially in response to the pro-inflammatory peptide substance P (SP). Inflammation is critical in the pathogenesis of many diseases, but the trigger(s) is often unknown. We investigated if mast cell stimulation leads to secretion of mitochondrial components and whether these could elicit autocrine and/or paracrine inflammatory effects. Here we show that human LAD2 mast cells stimulated by IgE/anti-IgE or by the SP led to secretion of mitochondrial particles, mitochondrial (mt) mtDNA and ATP without cell death. Mitochondria purified from LAD2 cells and, when mitochondria added to mast cells trigger degranulation and release of histamine, PGD(2), IL-8, TNF, and IL-1β. This stimulatory effect is partially inhibited by an ATP receptor antagonist and by DNAse. These results suggest that the mitochondrial protein fraction may also contribute. Purified mitochondria also stimulate IL-8 and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) release from cultured human keratinocytes, and VEGF release from primary human microvascular endothelial cells. In order to investigate if mitochondrial components could be secreted in vivo, we injected rats intraperiotoneally (ip) with compound 48/80, which mimicks the action of SP. Peritoneal mast cells degranulated and mitochondrial particles were documented by transimission electron microscopy outside the cells. We also wished to investigate if mitochondrial components secreted locally could reach the systemic circulation. Administration ip of mtDNA isolated from LAD2 cells in rats was detected in their serum within 4 hr, indicating that extravascular mtDNA could enter the systemic circulation. Secretion of mitochondrial components from stimulated live mast cells may act as "autopathogens" contributing to the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases and may be used as targets for novel treatments.

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