Mast cells as sentinels of innate immunity

Curr Opin Immunol. 1999 Feb;11(1):53-9. doi: 10.1016/s0952-7915(99)80010-7.


Mast cells are widely regarded as important effector cells in immune responses associated with Th2 cells and IgE. Recent work shows that they can also contribute significantly to the expression of innate immunity; furthermore, survival in a model of acute bacterial infection that is dependent on complement and mast cells can be greatly enhanced by long-term treatment of mice with the kit ligand (stem cell factor) at least in part because of the effects of such treatment on mast cell numbers and/or function. These findings not only indicate that mast cells can represent a critical component of host defense in natural immunity but also suggest that mast cell function in this setting can be manipulated for therapeutic ends.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Mast Cells / cytology
  • Mast Cells / immunology*
  • Mast Cells / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha