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Blood. 1997 Apr 15;89(8):2654-63.

Differential release of mast cell interleukin-6 via c-kit.

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Department of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Mast cells represent a potential source of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and other cytokines that have been implicated in host defense, tissue maintenance/remodeling, immunoregulation, and many other biologic responses. In acquired immune responses to parasites or allergens, the extensive IgE-dependent activation of mast cells via Fc epsilonRI can result in the release of large quantities of biogenic amines that are stored in the cells' cytoplasmic granules as well as the production of lipid mediators and many cytokines; these products together can orchestrate an intense inflammatory response. We now report that activation of mouse mast cells via c-kit, the receptor for the pleiotropic survival/growth factor, stem cell factor (SCF), can induce the release of IL-6. Upon challenge with SCF, bone marrow-derived cultured mouse mast cells (BMCMCs) released amounts of IL-6 that were greater than 100-fold more than those produced by unstimulated cells, but that were substantially less than those produced in response to IgE and specific antigen. Moreover, BMCMCs released IL-6 upon challenge with concentrations of SCF that resulted in little or no detectable release of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, leukotriene C4, histamine, or serotonin. These findings indicate that SCF, a widely expressed protein that is critical for mast cell development and survival, can also regulate the differential release of mast cell mediators.

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