Stem cell factor expression, mast cells and inflammation in asthma

Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2006 Feb;20(1):21-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-8206.2005.00390.x.


The Kit ligand SCF or stem cell factor (SCF) is a multipotent growth factor, acting as an important growth factor for human mast cells. SCF induces chemotaxis and survival of the mast cell, as well as proliferation and differentiation of immature mast cells from CD34(+) progenitors. Additionally, SCF enhances antigen-induced degranulation of human lung-derived mast cells, and induces a mast cell hyperplasia after subcutaneous administration. SCF expression increases in the airways of asthmatic patients, and this is reversed after treatment with glucocorticoids. A role for SCF may thus be hypothesized in diseases associated with a local increase in the number and/or activation of mast cells, as occurring in the airways in asthma. SCF will be reviewed as a potential therapeutic target in asthma, to control the regulation of mast cell number and activation. We here report the main pathways of SCF synthesis and signalling, and its potential role on airway function and asthma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / metabolism*
  • Asthma / pathology
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Chemotaxis
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Mast Cells / drug effects
  • Mast Cells / metabolism*
  • Mast Cells / pathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cell Factor / metabolism*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Stem Cell Factor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit