A novel cell-to-cell interaction between mast cells and other cell types

Exp Cell Res. 1983 Aug;147(1):1-13. doi: 10.1016/0014-4827(83)90265-3.


Time-lapse cinephotomicrography and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) have been used to study the interactions between rat mast cells and different cell monolayers in culture (fibroblasts, vascular endothelial cells and cardiac muscle cells). This report documents a novel form of behavior between mast cells and certain other cell types. We have tentatively termed this cellular behavior 'transgranulation', which involves sequential changes not seen in control cells, including: (1) formation of a granule-containing mast cell pseudopod that becomes closely applied to an adjacent cell; (2) development of specialized plasma membrane interrelationships between apposing cells; (3) alteration of granules and perigranular membranes within the mast cell pseudopod; (4) occasional transfer of exocytosed mast cell granules to the cytoplasm of the adjacent cell; (5) presence of a specialized inclusion body in the mast cell; and finally, (6) either withdrawal of the pseudopod by the mast cell, or casting-off of the pseudopod from the mast cell, leaving it on the surface of the adjacent cell (pseudopod translocation). These mast cell interactions occur specifically with fibroblasts and endothelial cells in vitro and are never observed with cardiac muscle cells or non-cellular substrates. Our investigations of rat mesenteries in situ confirm that these cell-cell interactions also occur in vivo. We suggest it represents a form of cell-to-cell communication involving secretion from a mast cell pseudopod to another cell type. The significance of specialized contacts between mast cells and other cell types in vivo is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication*
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Endothelium / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Mast Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Myocardium / cytology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains