Is there a role for mast cells in psoriasis?

Arch Dermatol Res. 2008 Oct;300(9):461-78. doi: 10.1007/s00403-008-0874-x. Epub 2008 Aug 22.


Mast cells have traditionally been considered as effector cells in allergy but during the last decade it has been realized that mast cells are essentially involved in the mechanisms of innate and acquired immunity. Upon activation by anaphylactic, piecemeal degranulation or degranulation-independent mechanisms mast cells can secrete rapidly or slowly a number of soluble mediators, such as serine proteinases, histamine, lipid-derived mediators, cytokines, chemokines and growth factors. Mast cells can express cell surface co-stimulatory receptors and ligands, and they can express MHC class II molecules and thereby present antigens. These soluble factors and cell surface molecules can interact with other cells, such as endothelial cells, keratinocytes, sensory nerves, neutrophils, T cell subsets and antigen presenting cells which are essential effectors in the development of skin inflammation. Besides promoting inflammation, mast cells may attempt in some circumstances to suppress the inflammation and epidermal growth but the regulation between suppressive and proinflammatory mechanisms is unclear. Psoriasis is characterized by epidermal hyperplasia and chronic inflammation where tryptase- and chymase-positive MC(TC) mast cells are activated early in the developing lesion and later the cells increase in number in the upper dermis with concomitant expression of cytokines and TNF superfamily ligands as well as increased contacts with neuropeptide-containing sensory nerves. Due to the intimate involvement of mast cells in immunity and chronic inflammation the role of mast cells in psoriasis is discussed in this review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immunity / physiology
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Mast Cells / enzymology
  • Mast Cells / pathology
  • Mast Cells / physiology*
  • Psoriasis / immunology*
  • Psoriasis / pathology
  • Psoriasis / physiopathology*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / pathology
  • Serine Endopeptidases / metabolism


  • Serine Endopeptidases