Mast cells (MCs) are known as key cells of immediate type hypersensitivity reactions. It has recently been shown that MCs regulate fibroblast proliferation by heterotypic cell-cell contact and secretion of interleukin-4 (IL-4) in vitro. It was therefore hypothesized that MCs may contribute to wound repair in vivo. Using immunohistology and in situ hybridization, the time course of mast cell recruitment and the expression of MC-attractant chemokines were analysed in a human skin wound-healing model, and the production of IL-4 by MCs in vivo was investigated. The data obtained indicate that the five-fold increase of the tryptase+ MCs at the fibrotic border of the wound within the first 10 days is the result of increased recruitment/survival of MCs or MC precursors, but not of increased local proliferation. Recruitment of MCs is paralleled by the expression of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), but not by other chemokines such as RANTES (regulated on activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted) and/or MIP (macrophage inflammatory protein)-1alpha/beta. Notably, 60-70% of MCs exhibited strong and selective IL-4 immunoreactivity, whereas other resident and passenger cells were rather quiescent. The data suggest that MC contribute significantly to the cytokine network of wound repair via MC-derived IL-4 and stimulation of fibroblast proliferation.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.