Development of rat mast cells in vitro. I. Differentiation of mast cells from thymus cells

J Immunol. 1976 Mar;116(3):747-54.


Mast cells were differentiated by long-term culture of rat thymus cells on rat embryonic fibroblasts monolayers. Mature mast cells obtained in the culture were morphologically similar to normal peritoneal and thoracic mast cells and possessed specific receptors for IgE on their surface. In culture, blast cells appeared on the monolayer several days after seeding of thymus cells. These cells developed into young mast cells in the monolayer and became free in the culture medium with maturation. Receptors for IgE were detected on the surface of mastoblasts which contained a small amount of metachromatic granules. Evidence was obtained which suggested that the number and/or affinity of the receptors for IgE increases with maturation of mast cells. It was found that some mast cells differentiated from monolayers of embryo cells without seeding thymus cells. The present experiments, however, clearly showed that mast cells can be differentiated from thymus cell culture without monolayer. It appears that both thymus and embryo tissues contain precursors of mast cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Binding Sites, Antibody
  • Fibroblasts
  • Immunoglobulin E / metabolism
  • Immunoglobulin G / metabolism
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mast Cells / cytology*
  • Mast Cells / immunology
  • Rats
  • Thymus Gland / cytology*


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin E