Mast cells (MCs) are immunocytes with secretory functions that act locally in peripheral tissues to modulate local hemodynamics, nociceptor activation and pain. They are also able to infiltrate the central nervous system (CNS), especially the spinal cord and the thalamus, but their cerebral function remains an enigma. A role in regulating the opening of the blood-brain barrier has been proposed. Paracrine-like action of MCs on synaptic transmission might also signal a modulation of the nervous system by the immune system. In this review, we examine the link between MCs and nociceptive process, at the periphery as well as in the CNS.
Keywords: Brain; Immuno-neuromodulation; Mast cells; Nociception.