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Eur J Immunol. 1997 Jan;27(1):297-306.

Alterations in intracellular reactive oxygen species generation and redox potential modulate mast cell function.

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Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Addenbrooke's Hospital, GB.


The administration of mercuric chloride (HgCl2), gold compounds, or D-penicillamine to Brown Norway (BN) rats causes a T helper (Th)2 cell-associated autoimmune syndrome characterized by the production of a number of autoantibodies, marked elevation of serum IgE concentration, and tissue injury in the form of a vasculitis and arthritis. We have recently shown that the same compounds in vitro sensitize BN rat peritoneal mast cells for IgE-triggered mediator release and interleukin-4 mRNA production. We wished to test the hypothesis that these agents influence mast cell function via an effect on intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) production/redox balance. Mast cells were obtained from BN rats by peritoneal washout. Incubation with HgCl2, gold compounds or D-penicillamine (the latter only in the presence of copper ions) led to the intracellular production of ROS as shown by the oxidative production of the fluorescent compound 2',7'-dichlorofluorescein. Mast cells were more sensitive than splenocytes to this effect. Direct oxidative stress (exposure to H2O2) produced a similar sensitization for mediator release to that caused by HgCl2. Inhibition of ROS formation by desferrioxamine or catalase diminished the enhancement of IgE-mediated serotonin release caused by HgCl2, as did replenishment of intracellular glutathione. 2-Mercaptoethanol exacerbated the toxicity of HgCl2, perhaps due to the formation of a lipophilic complex that enhanced HgCl2 uptake. Blocking of glutathione synthesis increased the toxicity of HgCl2, but also abolished any sensitizing effect on mediator release. These results support three main predictions of our hypothesis: (1) the compounds known to influence mast cell function all lead to the generation of ROS within the mast cell; (2) direct oxidative stress causes sensitization for mediator release by the mast cell; and (3) modulation of ROS production/redox balance within the mast cell modulates the effects of these compounds on mast cell function. The balance of oxidative/antioxidative influences may play an important role in the modulation of mast cell function, particularly in the context of chemically induced autoimmunity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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