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J Immunol. 1996 Jul 15;157(2):557-65.

Delayed-type hypersensitivity in mast cell-deficient mice: dependence on platelets for expression of contact sensitivity.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


Previous studies of cutaneous T cell-mediated responses in mice have obtained pharmacologic, morphologic, and immunologic evidence pointing to a critical role for local mast cells in release of the vasoactive amine serotonin (5-HT) to mediate early, initiating events that are required for elicitation of these responses. However, the role of mast cells in initiating these T cell-mediated cutaneous responses has been questioned due to the presence of relatively intact delayed-type hypersensitivity responses, such as contact sensitivity (CS), in mast cell-deficient mice whose skin contains only 1 % normal mast cell numbers. The contribution of other potential local sources of 5-HT, such as circulating platelets, at the site of a delayed-type hypersensitivity or CS response in these mast cell-deficient strains, has not been investigated. Therefore, we studied the effect of systemic platelet depletion, produced with an anti-platelet Ab, on blood and tissue levels of 5-HT, and on in vivo T cell-mediated cutaneous sensitivity responses, in W/Wv and Sl/Sld mast cell-deficient mice. The results showed that: 1) platelet depletion severely reduced whole blood 5-HT; 2) tissue levels of 5-HT, in mast cell-deficient mice, depended in large part on the presence of circulating platelets, and 3) specific depletion of platelets markedly suppressed CS responses in both W/Wv and Sl/Sld mast cell-deficient mice, and only moderately reduced CS in normal +/+ congenic mast cell-sufficient controls, but did not decrease CS in beige mice, with platelet granules that are defective in storage of 5-HT. We concluded that platelets may provide 5-HT crucial for the initiation of cutaneous T cell-mediated immune responses, such as CS.

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