Phagocytosis of mast cell granules by mononuclear phagocytes, neutrophils and eosinophils during anaphylaxis

Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol. 1982;67(3):219-26. doi: 10.1159/000233022.


The phagocytosis by mononuclear phagocytes, neutrophils and eosinophils of mast cell granules which are released in the course of anaphylactic reactions was studied in the rat. Degranulation of rat peritoneal mast cells was induced either in vivo or in vitro after passive sensitization with homologous reaginic antiovalbumin serum by challenge with the antigen. The approximate extent of degranulation was assessed by determining histamine release. The anaphylactic reaction was stopped by fixation with glutaraldehyde and the cells were examined by electron microscopy. Phagocytosis was quantified in randomly selected thin section at the magnification of 1,800. Rapid and extensive phagocytosis of mast cell granules was observed both in vivo and in vitro. About one third of the mononuclear phagocytes and between 30 and 53% of the neutrophils present were engaged in phagocytosis and usually contained several mast cell granules. Phagocytosis by eosinophils was less prominent, both with respect to the proportion of phagocytosing cell (10-23%) and to the number of mast cell granules per cell profile. Examination of large numbers of cells indicates that the uptake process is highly efficient since both condensed and already disaggregated granule bodies were seen to adhere to the phagocytes and were taken up rapidly and without the need for opsonization. In the neutrophils, extensive fusion of azurophil granules (as evidenced by peroxidase cytochemistry) with phagosomes containing mast cell granules was observed. Occasionally, mast cell granules were seen within disrupted vacuoles, which could result from the swelling of the granule matrix following engulfment. The result of this study indicate that mononuclear and polymorphonuclear phagocytes have the capacity to scavenge important amounts of mast cell granule products released by anaphylaxis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anaphylaxis / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / immunology
  • Eosinophils / immunology*
  • Exocytosis
  • Female
  • Immunization, Passive
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mast Cells / immunology*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Phagocytes / immunology*
  • Phagocytosis*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains