Mast cell secretome: Soluble and vesicular components

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2017 Jul;67:65-73. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2017.02.002. Epub 2017 Feb 9.


Mast cells are multifunctional master cells implicated in both innate and adaptive immune responses. Their role has been best characterized in allergy and anaphylaxis; however, emerging evidences support their contribution to a wide variety of human diseases. Mast cells, being capable of both degranulation and subsequent recovery, have recently attracted substantial attention as also being rich sources of secreted extracellular vesicles (including exosomes and microvesicles). Along with secreted de novo synthesized soluble molecules and secreted preformed granules, the membrane-enclosed extracellular vesicles represent a previously unexplored part of the mast cell secretome. In this review article we summarize available data regarding the different soluble molecules and membrane-enclosed structures secreted by mast cells. Furthermore, we provide an overview of the release mechanisms including degranulation, piecemeal degranulation, transgranulation, and secretion of different types of extracellular vesicles. Finally, we aim to give a summary of the known biological functions associated with the different mast cell-derived secretion products. The increasingly recognized complexity of mast cell secretome may provide important novel clues to processes by which mast cells contribute to the development of different pathologies and are capable of orchestrating immune responses both in health and disease.

Keywords: Cell-to-cell communication; Exosome; Extracellular vesicle; Granule; Mast cell; Mediator.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcium / immunology
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Degranulation / immunology*
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / immunology*
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / pathology
  • Endothelial Cells / immunology
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Extracellular Vesicles / immunology*
  • Extracellular Vesicles / pathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / genetics
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity / metabolism*
  • Hypersensitivity / pathology
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunoglobulin E / genetics
  • Immunoglobulin E / metabolism
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Mast Cells / metabolism*
  • Mast Cells / pathology
  • Receptors, IgE / genetics
  • Receptors, IgE / immunology
  • Signal Transduction


  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, IgE
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Calcium