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Gynecol Endocrinol. 2014 Jul;30(7):472-7. doi: 10.3109/09513590.2014.911280. Epub 2014 May 8.

Mast cells in chronic inflammation, pelvic pain and depression in women.

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Center of Gynecology and Medical Sexology, H San Raffaele Resnati , Milano , Italy .


Inflammatory and neuroinflammatory processes are increasingly recognized as critical pathophysiologic steps in the development of multiple chronic diseases and in the etiology of persistent pain and depression. Mast cells are immune cells now viewed as cellular sensors in inflammation and immunity. When stimulated, mast cells release an array of mediators to orchestrate an inflammatory response. These mediators can directly initiate tissue responses on resident cells, and may also regulate the activity of other immune cells, including central microglia. New evidence supports the involvement of peripheral and central mast cells in the development of pain processes as well as in the transition from acute, to chronic and neuropathic pain. That behavioral and endocrine states can increase the number and activation of peripheral and brain mast cells suggests that mast cells represent the immune cells that peripherally and centrally coordinate inflammatory processes in neuropsychiatric diseases such as depression and anxiety which are associated with chronic pelvic pain. Given that increasing evidence supports the activated mast cell as a director of common inflammatory pathways/mechanisms contributing to chronic and neuropathic pelvic pain and comorbid neuropsychiatric diseases, mast cells may be considered a viable target for the multifactorial management of both pain and depression.


Anxiety; chronic pelvic pain; depression; mast cells; persistent inflammation

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