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Wound Repair Regen. 1998 Jan-Feb;6(1):8-20.

The mast cell-nerve axis in wound healing: a hypothesis.

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Department of General Surgery, Eberhard-Karls-University, Tübingen, Germany.


Beyond their classic roles in allergic reactions and defence against parasites, mast cells can now be viewed as key players in regulating connective tissue homeostasis. There is good evidence that mast cells are in close morphological and functional contact with the peripheral nervous system. Although substantial differences exist between mast cells of different tissues and different species, they produce a wide range of agents, including cytokines, growth factors, and other regulatory molecules, and they respond to an equally wide range of substances, including neuropeptides. At our current level of understanding wound healing, inflammation plays a central role in this process, with macrophages being central protagonists at the cellular level. There is now increasing evidence that mast cells are also involved in wound healing, in health and disease. They produce and secrete histamine, heparin, and multifunctional cytokines and growth factors, which represent important agents in the wound-healing process. Reviewing the recent literature supporting this hypothesis, we also outline the clinical importance of this work to help close the gap between basic research and clinical application.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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