The Role of Mast Cells in Inflammatory Processes: Evidence for Nerve/Mast Cell Interactions
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In the rat, there is considerable evidence of mast cell/nerve interaction both in the normal and infected intestine. Between 67 and 87% of all mast cells in the intestinal lamina propria of rats infected 22-35 days earlier with Nippostrongylus brasiliensis were touching nerves. These membrane contacts were between subepithelial mast cells and nonmyelinated nerves containing substance P, calcitonin gene-related peptide and neurone specific enolase. 2.5S nerve growth factor (NGF) has a significant enhancement effect on antigen-induced histamine release without addition of phosphatidylserine, and the in vivo administration of NGF to rats causes both connective tissue and mucosal mast cells to dramatically increase in number. All of these effects are both dose dependent and NGF specific, as evidenced by inhibition with anti-NGF. 2.5S NGF also causes in vitro increase of colonies in methylcellulose cultures of human peripheral blood. The effects of NGF in this system are synergistic with other T cell-derived growth factors and relatively specific for metachromatic cell growth. These observations support the conclusions that nerves and mast cells may constantly communicate and provide a structural and conceptual framework whereby the central nervous system may communicate with inflammatory events.
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