Histamine and Kinins

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, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 1-7

First online:

Typical and atypical mast cells of the rat gastrointestinal system: Distribution and correlation with tissue histamine

  • A. M. P. Saavedra-DelgadoAffiliated withAllergic Diseases Section, Laboratory of Clinical Investigation, National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases, National Institute of Health
  • , S. TurpinAffiliated withAllergic Diseases Section, Laboratory of Clinical Investigation, National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases, National Institute of Health
  • , D. D. MetcalfeAffiliated withAllergic Diseases Section, Laboratory of Clinical Investigation, National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases, National Institute of Health

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Abstract

Mast cells and histamine are present throughout the rat gastrointestinal system. Typical mast cells, differentiated from atypical mast cells by morphology, staining characteristics, and response to Compound 48/80, were the only mast cell type identified by histology in the cheek, tongue, esophagus, and nonglandular stomach. Atypical mast cells were found in large numbers in the glandular stomach, small and large intestine, and cecum, where they outnumbered typical mast cells by up to 20∶1. Gastrointestinal histamine levels varied from 2.6 to 19.3 ng/mg in all tissues surveyed except for the glandular stomach, which contained 26 ng/mg. The amount of histamine per typical mast cell was estimated to be approximately 1.29 picograms; atypical mast cells contained less than 0.15 picograms per cell. Parenteral administration of Compound 48/80 resulted in the degranulation of typical mast cells, but not atypical mast cells, as determined by a fall both in typical mast cell number and a decrease in tissue histamine in areas rich in typical mast cells. These results indicate that striking regional differences in mast cell distribution and tissue histamine levels exist in the rat gastrointestinal system.