Are mast cells important in diabetes?

Pol J Pathol. 2016;67(3):199-206. doi: 10.5114/pjp.2016.63770.


Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by hyperglycemia and associated with microvascular and macrovascular syndromes mediated by mast cells. Mast cells are activated through cross-linking of their surface high affinity receptors for IgE (FcRI) or other antigens, leading to degranulation and release of stored inflammatory mediators, and cytokines/chemokines without degranulation. Mast cells are implicated in innate and acquired immunity, inflammation and metabolic disorders such as diabetes. Histamine and tryptase genes in mast cells are overexpressed in pancreatic tissue of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients. Histamine is a classic inflammatory mediator generated by activated receptors of mast cells from the histamine-forming enzyme histidine decarboxylase (HDC), which can be activated by two inflammatory chemokines, RANTES and MPC1, when injected intramuscularly or intradermally in mice. This activation is inhibited in genetically mast cell-deficient W/Wv mice, which show higher insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. This study contributes to understanding the mechanism by which mast cells profoundly affect diabetes, and their manipulation could represent a new therapeutic strategy. However, further studies are needed to clarify the role of mast cells in inflammation and metabolic disorders such as diabetes.

Keywords: autoimmunity; immune modulation; mast cells; peripheral vascular disease; type 2 diabetes; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Mast Cells / immunology*