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J Immunol. 1994 Oct 15;153(8):3717-23.

Stem cell factor is a chemotactic factor for human mast cells.

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Department of Pathology, University Hospital, University of Uppsala, Sweden.


The mast cell is one of the major effector cells in inflammatory reactions and can be found in most tissues throughout the body. During inflammation, an increase in the number of mast cells can be seen, e.g., in the intraepithelial cell layer after a provoked allergic reaction. Such accumulation probably requires directed migration of mature mast cells or their precursors. To study the migration of human mast cells we used as a model the human mast cell line, HMC-1, and stem cell factor-dependent (also referred to as mast cell growth factor or Kit ligand) cord blood-derived mast cells. The results show that stem cell factor is a potent chemotactic factor for human mast cells in vitro. The chemotactic response to SCF was found to be dose dependent, reaching a maximum at 50 ng/ml. The activity of SCF could be blocked by anti-SCF Abs. We also tested the effect of different intercrines, i.e., IL-8, MIP-1 alpha, MIP-1 beta, RANTES, and MCAF (also referred to as monocyte chemotactic protein 1), on human mast cell migration. Only RANTES was chemotactic for in vitro-developed mast cells. None of the tested intercrines induced migration of HMC-1 cells. For migration, the mast cells were dependent on binding to an extracellular matrix protein. Thus, coating of the filters with fibronectin was required, whereas collagen or laminin did not promote migration. Adhesion of HMC-1 cells to fibronectin could also be shown in an adhesion assay. In addition, expression of receptors for fibronectin could be detected on the surface of the mast cells. These results show that SCF is not only a growth and differentiation factor for human mast cells in vitro but also a potent chemoattractant for such cells.

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