Mast cells and nitric oxide: control of production, mechanisms of response

Int Immunopharmacol. 2001 Aug;1(8):1525-41. doi: 10.1016/s1567-5769(01)00096-0.


Mast cells are involved in numerous activities ranging from control of the vasculature, to tissue injury and repair, allergic inflammation and host defences. They synthesize and secrete a variety of mediators, activating and modulating the functions of nearby cells and initiating complex physiological changes. Interestingly, NO produced by mast cells and/or other cells in the microenvironment appears to regulate these diverse roles. This review outlines some of the pathways central to the production of NO by mast cells and identifies many of the tightly controlled regulatory mechanisms involved. Several cofactors and regulatory elements are involved in NO production, and these act at transcriptional and post-translational sites. Their involvement in NO production will be outlined and the possibility that these pathways are critically important in mast cell functions will be discussed. The effects of NO on mast cell functions such as adhesion, activation and mediator secretion will be examined with a focus on molecular mechanisms by which NO modifies intracellular signalling pathways dependent or independent of cGMP and soluble guanylate cyclase. The possibility that NO regulates mast cell function through effects on selected ion channels will be discussed. Metabolic products of NO including peroxynitrite and other reactive species may be the critical elements that affect the actions of NO on mast cell functions. Further understanding of the actions of NO on mast cell activities may uncover novel strategies to modulate inflammatory conditions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mast Cells / immunology
  • Mast Cells / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism*


  • Nitric Oxide
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase