Isolation and characterization of lung mast cells from rats with bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis.
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To study the nature and extent of mast cell heterogeneity within a single species, we have developed methodologies to isolate rat lung mast cells (LMC) and have compared these to peritoneal mast cells (PMC) and intestinal mucosal mast cells (IMMC). In normal and athymic nude (rnu/rnu) rats, a single intratracheal administration of bleomycin (5 U/kg) leads to pulmonary fibrosis accompanied by parenchymal hyperplasia of mast cells that are histochemically like PMC rather than IMMC. Using collagenase digestion of fibrotic rat lungs (30-80 days after bleomycin treatment), we recovered an average of 58.1 x 10(6) viable cells per rat, containing 2.5% mast cells. Control experiments in which PMC were subjected to the isolation procedure used for LMC showed that there was no qualitative effect on PMC, but that a reduction of 26-60% in responsiveness to secretagogues occurred. Isolated LMC secreted histamine in response to 48/80, A23187, substance P, VIP and somatostatin and bradykinin, but at lower levels than PMC. The anti-allergic compound theophylline, which does not inhibit antigen-induced histamine secretion by IMMC, was effective against both LMC and PMC. Taken together, the thymus independence of pulmonary mast cell hyperplasia, the histochemical characteristics and the responsiveness to secretagogues and anti-allergic compounds indicate that the majority of dispersed LMC are similar to PMC rather than to IMMC. Whether LMC should be considered analogous to PMC or, because of their size, histamine content and responsiveness to many secretagogues, intermediate between PMC and IMMC, remains to be determined through additional studies.
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