Ultrastructural features of mast cells in picryl chloride (PCL)-induced contact dermatitis in IQI/Jic mice

Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2003 Mar;54(4):265-71. doi: 10.1078/0940-2993-00261.


Mast cells are one of the major effector cells in the pathogenesis of allergic diseases such as contact dermatitis. In the present study, ultrastructural features of mast cells in contact dermatitis were examined. Namely, the ear of IQI/Jic mice was topically applied with picryl chloride (PCL) at 4 (1st), 11 (2nd), 18 (3rd) and 25 days (4th) after the sensitization with PCL to the abdominal skin. The changes in the ear swelling responses, total serum IgE levels and histology including mast cell numbers were similar to those of previous reports by our research group (Ikeda et al. 2000; Jung et al. 2001). Ultrastructurally, after the 1st application, a close spacial relationship between mast cells and neutrophils and phagocytosis of mast cell granules by neutrophils were observed. Mast cells generally contained non-fused swollen granules filled with altered contents with low electron density and showed an extrusion of membrane-free granules through membrane pores. In addition, interestingly, a few mast cells secreted membrane-bound granules into the dermis without leaving cell membrane damage. After the 4th application when the number of mast cells prominently increased and the total serum IgE level was greatly elevated, in addition to mast cells showing typical anaphylactic degranulation, many mast cells probably in the recovery process from degranulation and several immature mast cells characterized by well-developed Golgi apparatus, many ribosomes and a few electron-dense secretory granules in the peripheral cytoplasm were also observed at the same time. The present results clarified the ultrastructural features of mast cells in the course of PCL-induced contact dermatitis in IQI/Jic mice.

MeSH terms

  • Anaphylaxis / immunology
  • Animals
  • Cell Degranulation / immunology
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / immunology
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / ultrastructure
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / pathology*
  • Ear, External / pathology
  • Female
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Mast Cells / immunology*
  • Mast Cells / pathology
  • Mast Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Phagocytosis
  • Picryl Chloride / administration & dosage*


  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Picryl Chloride