Mast cells in human and experimental cardiometabolic diseases

Nat Rev Cardiol. 2015 Nov;12(11):643-58. doi: 10.1038/nrcardio.2015.117. Epub 2015 Aug 11.


Mast cells, like many other types of inflammatory cell, perform pleiotropic roles in cardiometabolic diseases such as atherosclerosis, abdominal aortic aneurysms, obesity, and diabetes mellitus, as well as complications associated with these diseases. Low numbers of mast cells are present in the heart, aorta, and adipose tissue of healthy humans, but patients with cardiometabolic diseases and animals with experimentally-induced cardiometabolic pathologies have high numbers of mast cells with increased activity in the affected tissues. Mediators released by the activated mast cells, such as chemokines, cytokines, growth factors, heparin, histamine, and proteases, not only function as biomarkers of cardiometabolic diseases, but might also directly contribute to the pathogenesis of such diseases. Mast-cell mediators impede the functions of vascular cells, the integrity of the extracellular matrix, and the activity of other inflammatory cells, thereby contributing to the pathobiology of the conditions at multiple levels. In mouse models, mast-cell activation aggravates the progression of various cardiometabolic pathologies, whereas a genetic deficiency or pharmacological stabilization of mast cells, or depletion or inhibition of specific mast-cell mediators, tends to delay the progression of such conditions. Pharmacological inhibition of mast-cell activation or their targeted effector functions offers potential novel therapeutic strategies for patients with cardiometabolic disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / immunology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / physiology
  • Mast Cells / immunology*
  • Metabolic Diseases / immunology*
  • Metabolic Diseases / physiopathology


  • Inflammation Mediators