Mast cells as sources of cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors

Immunol Rev. 2018 Mar;282(1):121-150. doi: 10.1111/imr.12634.


Mast cells are hematopoietic cells that reside in virtually all vascularized tissues and that represent potential sources of a wide variety of biologically active secreted products, including diverse cytokines and growth factors. There is strong evidence for important non-redundant roles of mast cells in many types of innate or adaptive immune responses, including making important contributions to immediate and chronic IgE-associated allergic disorders and enhancing host resistance to certain venoms and parasites. However, mast cells have been proposed to influence many other biological processes, including responses to bacteria and virus, angiogenesis, wound healing, fibrosis, autoimmune and metabolic disorders, and cancer. The potential functions of mast cells in many of these settings is thought to reflect their ability to secrete, upon appropriate activation by a range of immune or non-immune stimuli, a broad spectrum of cytokines (including many chemokines) and growth factors, with potential autocrine, paracrine, local, and systemic effects. In this review, we summarize the evidence indicating which cytokines and growth factors can be produced by various populations of rodent and human mast cells in response to particular immune or non-immune stimuli, and comment on the proven or potential roles of such mast cell products in health and disease.

Keywords: chemokines; cytokines; growth factors; immunity; inflammation; mast cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication
  • Chemokines / metabolism*
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Mast Cells / immunology*


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines