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Mast cells (MC) are bone marrow derived granulated cells which mature and reside within the connective tissue. MC can release a variety of preformed mediators such as histamine, proteases, cytokines, growth factors and proteoglycans by degranulation.1 In inflammation, activated MC orchestrate the infiltration of leucocytes2 ,3 and present antigen to lymphocytes.4 MC directly activate fibroblasts via gap junctions5 and coculture of MC with fibroblasts in vitro stimulates collagen production and enhances collagen contraction.6 MC also regulate the proliferation of neighbouring fibroblasts. This effect is dependent on heterotypic cell-to-cell contact and requires the release of interleukin (IL)-4 by MC.7
MC have been implicated in systemic sclerosis (SSc) pathology based on their increased numbers and degranulation in skin.8 We showed recently that MC are a main source of transforming growth factor-β, a major profibrotic mediator.9 In order to …
Competing interests None.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval Approval provided by the Ethical Committee Newcastle upon Tyne and Middlesbrough, UK.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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