1932

Abstract

Mast cells have existed long before the development of adaptive immunity, although they have been given different names. Thus, in the marine urochordate , they have been designated as test cells. However, based on their morphological characteristics (including prominent cytoplasmic granules) and mediator content (including heparin, histamine, and neutral proteases), test cells are thought to represent members of the lineage known in vertebrates as mast cells. So this lineage presumably had important functions that preceded the development of antibodies, including IgE. Yet mast cells are best known, in humans, as key sources of mediators responsible for acute allergic reactions, notably including anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially fatal IgE-dependent immediate hypersensitivity reaction to apparently harmless antigens, including many found in foods and medicines. In this review, we briefly describe the origins of tissue mast cells and outline evidence that these cells can have beneficial as well as detrimental functions, both innately and as participants in adaptive immune responses. We also discuss aspects of mast cell heterogeneity and comment on how the plasticity of this lineage may provide insight into its roles in health and disease. Finally, we consider some currently open questions that are yet unresolved.

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2020-04-26
2024-06-22
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