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2003 | 51 | 2 | 111-120

Article title

The dynamic and complex role of mast cells in allergic disease


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Mast cells (MC) are found widely distributed in tissues and contribute to regulation of inflammatory responses and ongoing modulation of the tissues. Although MC are important in a variety of processes including innate immunity, their role in allergic disease has received increasing attention in the past decade. MC are located throughout the human body and upon allergen exposure they are stimulated via the IgE receptor (FceRI) to release several proinflammatory mediators such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF), reactive oxygen species such as nitric oxide (NO), proteases, and lipid-derived mediators. However, we now recognize that MC can be activated by a variety of mechanisms and that mediator release is a consequence of several intra- and extracellular signals. Some of these mechanisms, such as Fc receptor aggregation and proteinase activated receptor (PAR)-mediated activation facilitate and augment local inflammatory responses. Other mechanisms, such as interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) induction of nitric oxide (NO) may inhibit MC function and downregulate inflammatory responses. Increased understanding of these complex pathways has encouraged the development of therapies for allergic inflammation that target specific MC functions and mediators. Some novel strategies include oligonucleotides that induce or inhibit the production of specific mediators. Such approaches may yield useful therapies for allergic individuals in the near future.






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N. Kulka, Pulmonary Research Group, 550A HMRC, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2S2, Canada


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