Human mast cell degranulation and preformed TNF secretion require mitochondrial translocation to exocytosis sites: relevance to atopic dermatitis

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 Jun;127(6):1522-31.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2011.02.005. Epub 2011 Mar 31.


Background: Mast cells derive from hematopoietic cell precursors and participate in tissue allergic, immune, and inflammatory processes. They secrete many mediators, including preformed TNF, in response to allergic, neuropeptide, and environmental triggers. However, regulation of mast cell degranulation is not well understood.

Objective: We investigated the role of mitochondrial dynamics in degranulation of human cultured mast cells.

Methods: Human umbilical cord blood-derived mast cells (hCBMCs) and Laboratory of Allergic Diseases 2 (LAD2) mast cells were examined by confocal and differential interference contrast microscopy during activation by IgE/antigen and substance P (SP). Mast cells in control and atopic dermatitis (AD) skin were evaluated by transmission electron microscopy. LAD2 cells were pretreated with mitochondrial division inhibitor, a dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1) inhibitor, and small interfering RNA for Drp1, which is necessary for mitochondrial fission and translocation. Calcineurin and Drp1 gene expression was analyzed in stimulated LAD2 cells and AD skin biopsies.

Results: Stimulation of hCBMCs with IgE/antigen or LAD2 cells with SP leads to rapid (30 minutes) secretion of preformed TNF. Degranulation is accompanied by mitochondrial translocation from a perinuclear location to exocytosis sites. Extracellular calcium depletion prevents these effects, indicating calcium requirement. The calcium-dependent calcineurin and Drp1 are activated 30 minutes after SP stimulation. Reduction of Drp1 activity by mitochondrial division inhibitor and decrease of Drp1 expression using small interfering RNA inhibit mitochondrial translocation, degranulation, and TNF secretion. Mitochondrial translocation is also evident by transmission electron microscopy in skin mast cells from AD biopsies, in which gene expression of calcineurin, Drp1, and SP is higher than in normal skin.

Conclusion: Human mast cell degranulation requires mitochondrial dynamics, also implicated in AD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antigens / administration & dosage
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Calcineurin / genetics
  • Calcineurin / metabolism
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Degranulation / drug effects
  • Cell Degranulation / immunology
  • Cell Degranulation / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / genetics
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / physiopathology*
  • Dynamins
  • Exocytosis / physiology
  • Female
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / genetics
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Mast Cells / drug effects
  • Mast Cells / immunology
  • Mast Cells / physiology*
  • Mast Cells / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria / physiology
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Substance P / administration & dosage
  • Substance P / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Antigens
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Substance P
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Calcineurin
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • DNM1L protein, human
  • Dynamins
  • Calcium