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Nature. 1984 Nov 29-Dec 5;312(5993):450-2.

Mucosal mast cells are functionally active during spontaneous expulsion of intestinal nematode infections in rat.


Infestation of the gastrointestinal tract by parasitic nematodes is invariably associated with mucosal mastocytosis, which is a thymus-dependent phenomenon in parasitized rats, and is adoptively transferable with a T cell-enriched population of thoracic duct lymphocytes. When derived by in vitro culture, mucosal mast cells (MMC) arise from a bone marrow precursor after stimulation by T cell-derived factors. In rats infected with the nematode Trichinella spiralis, mucosal mastocytosis is temporally associated with the immune expulsion of the adult worms whereas in the case of Nippostrongylus brasiliensis, mastocytosis is frequently observed to occur after worm expulsion has been completed. Consequently, there has been doubt as to whether MMC are active and serve a functional role in the expulsion of rat intestinal nematodes. MMC contain and secrete a neutral proteinase, rat mast cell protease II (RMCP II); detection and assay of secreted RMCP II therefore provides a direct measurement of MMC activity. Here we describe the release of this enzyme into the blood of rats infected with N. brasiliensis or T. spiralis. Our results show that the systemic secretion of RMCP II coincides with the immune expulsion of these nematodes, demonstrating clearly for the first time that rat MMC are functionally active during the immune elimination of primary nematode infections.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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