Mast cell/nerve interactions in vitro and in vivo

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1991 Mar;143(3 Pt 2):S55-8. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/143.3_Pt_2.S55.


In this report, we review the evidence for mast cell/nerve interactions. We believe that the morphologic and functional evidence now strongly support a purposeful and biologically significant interaction between these two cell types. This interaction has physiologic consequences and appears to be able to regulate such local events as chloride ion secretion by epithelial cells of the intestinal and respiratory tracts in experimental models. In this way, the mast cell and nerve may be considered as a functional homeostatic regulatory unit. The extent to which this unit may be involved in maintenance of normal integrity of mucous membranes or other structures, in health and in disease, is not clear at the present and will require considerably more investigation and elucidation. However, the concept of such an interaction is an interesting one and may bring new approaches of a therapeutic and diagnostic nature to bear on some old problems. The observations reviewed in this report that psychologic conditioning may itself cause mucosal mast cell degranulation and mediator release in the rat is significant. We consider that this evidence of central nervous system control of mast cell degranulation is an extension of the idea that mast cells and nerves communicate.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Inflammation / physiopathology*
  • Mast Cells / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*