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Mast Cells pp 93-119 | Cite as

Mast Cells in Human Health and Disease

  • Erin J. DeBruin
  • Matthew Gold
  • Bernard C. Lo
  • Kimberly Snyder
  • Alissa Cait
  • Nikola Lasic
  • Martin Lopez
  • Kelly M. McNagny
  • Michael R. HughesEmail author
Protocol
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1220)

Abstract

Mast cells are primarily known for their role in defense against pathogens, particularly bacteria; neutralization of venom toxins; and for triggering allergic responses and anaphylaxis. In addition to these direct effector functions, activated mast cells rapidly recruit other innate and adaptive immune cells and can participate in “tuning” the immune response. In this review we touch briefly on these important functions and then focus on some of the less-appreciated roles of mast cells in human disease including cancer, autoimmune inflammation, organ transplant, and fibrosis. Although it is difficult to formally assign causal roles to mast cells in human disease, we offer a general review of data that correlate the presence and activation of mast cells with exacerbated inflammation and disease progression. Conversely, in some restricted contexts, mast cells may offer protective roles. For example, the presence of mast cells in some malignant or cardiovascular diseases is associated with favorable prognosis. In these cases, specific localization of mast cells within the tissue and whether they express chymase or tryptase (or both) are diagnostically important considerations. Finally, we review experimental animal models that imply a causal role for mast cells in disease and discuss important caveats and controversies of these findings.

Key words

Autoimmune disease Asthma Allergy Cancer Cardiovascular disease Fibrosis Inflammatory bowel disease Mastocytosis Organ transplant Pathogen clearance 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erin J. DeBruin
    • 1
  • Matthew Gold
    • 1
  • Bernard C. Lo
    • 1
  • Kimberly Snyder
    • 1
  • Alissa Cait
    • 2
  • Nikola Lasic
    • 3
  • Martin Lopez
    • 3
  • Kelly M. McNagny
    • 3
  • Michael R. Hughes
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Experimental Medicine, The Biomedical Research CentreThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Department of Medical Genetics, The Biomedical Research CentreThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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