Neurotransmitter and neuropeptide regulation of mast cell function: a systematic review

J Neuroinflammation. 2020 Nov 25;17(1):356. doi: 10.1186/s12974-020-02029-3.


The existence of the neural control of mast cell functions has long been proposed. Mast cells (MCs) are localized in association with the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and the brain, where they are closely aligned, anatomically and functionally, with neurons and neuronal processes throughout the body. They express receptors for and are regulated by various neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, and other neuromodulators. Consequently, modulation provided by these neurotransmitters and neuromodulators allows neural control of MC functions and involvement in the pathogenesis of mast cell-related disease states. Recently, the roles of individual neurotransmitters and neuropeptides in regulating mast cell actions have been investigated extensively. This review offers a systematic review of recent advances in our understanding of the contributions of neurotransmitters and neuropeptides to mast cell activation and the pathological implications of this regulation on mast cell-related disease states, though the full extent to which such control influences health and disease is still unclear, and a complete understanding of the mechanisms underlying the control is lacking. Future validation of animal and in vitro models also is needed, which incorporates the integration of microenvironment-specific influences and the complex, multifaceted cross-talk between mast cells and various neural signals. Moreover, new biological agents directed against neurotransmitter receptors on mast cells that can be used for therapeutic intervention need to be more specific, which will reduce their ability to support inflammatory responses and enhance their potential roles in protecting against mast cell-related pathogenesis.

Keywords: Neuron-mast cell interaction; Neuropeptides; Neurotransmitters.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / immunology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mast Cells / immunology*
  • Mast Cells / metabolism
  • Neurons / immunology*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neuropeptides / immunology*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / immunology*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / immunology*
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / metabolism


  • Neuropeptides
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter