Background: Mast cells contribute to the pathogenesis of asthma and allergy through the release of a plethora of pro-inflammatory mediators and cytokines. Their study is hampered by the difficult access to human tissue samples. Human mast cells have been cultured from CD34+ progenitors in the bone marrow of normal volunteers following iliac crest bone marrow biopsy but this is invasive. Hip bone marrow could provide a more convenient less invasive source of mast cell progenitors.
Objective: To characterize mast cells cultured from human bone marrow obtained at routine hip surgery.
Methods: Mononuclear cells were isolated from the bone marrow reamings of patients undergoing routine hip replacement surgery and were cultured with recombinant stem cell factor (SCF), IL-6 and IL-10. Cell surface markers were examined using flow cytometry, protease expression monitored using immunohistochemistry, histamine measured by radioenzymic assay, Ca2+ responses analysed using ratiometric Ca2+ imaging, and ion currents recorded via the patch-clamp technique.
Results: Mast cells were absent at baseline, but accounted for 65 +/- 7% of cells after 8-12 weeks of culture, equating to a mean 0.6 +/- 0.14 x 10(6) mast cells per culture. Fifty-three percent of tryptase+ cells also contained chymase. The remaining cells comprised a population of large CD1a+ HLA-DR+ and Fc epsilon RI alpha+ cells, most likely dendritic cells. All mast cells expressed CD117 and the high-affinity IgE receptor alpha-chain (Fc epsilon RI alpha) constitutively, and developed a Ca2+ response following IgE-dependent activation. These cells exhibited 7.8 +/- 2.9% net IgE-dependent histamine release, and demonstrated a similar ion channel profile to human lung mast cells. In particular, the intermediate conductance Ca(2+)-activated K+ channel opened following IgE-dependent activation.
Conclusions: Mast cells grown from human hip marrow provide a rich non-invasive source of functionally mature mast cells. In addition, this culture system may be useful for the generation of Fc epsilon RI alpha+ dendritic cells.