Heterogeneity of mast cells at multiple body sites. Fluorescent determination of avidin binding and immunofluorescent determination of chymase, tryptase, and carboxypeptidase content

Pathol Res Pract. 1993 Mar;189(2):156-62. doi: 10.1016/S0344-0338(11)80086-5.


Human mast cells (MCs) from multiple sites were studied to determine heterogeneity of expression of chymase, tryptase, and/or carboxypeptidase and the binding to avidin. Three immunophenotypes were found: MCs positive for tryptase (MCT), no immunodetectable chymase; MCs positive for tryptase and chymase (MCTC); and MCs positive for chymase (MCC), no immunodetectable tryptase. Chymase-positive MCs also bound avidin and contained carboxypeptidase. In breast skin and parenchyma and axillary lymph nodes > 95% were MCTC; a rare MC in skin and lymph nodes was MCT or MCC. In lung alveoli 91% of MCs were MCT, 8% were MCTC and 1% MCC. In bowel mucosa 58% of MCs were MCT, 35% were MCTC and 7% MCC, whereas in bowel submucosa 83% of MCs were MCTC and 17% MCC. Within esophageal epithelium 38% were MCT and 62% MCTC; whereas, in esophageal subepithelium all were MCTC. This study further documents site-dependent diversity among normal human MCs and recognizes a novel third immunophenotype rich in chymase and relatively deficient in tryptase, the MCC cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Avidin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Carboxypeptidases / analysis*
  • Chymases
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Mast Cells / enzymology*
  • Mast Cells / metabolism
  • Organ Specificity
  • Protein Binding
  • Serine Endopeptidases / analysis*
  • Tryptases


  • fluorescein isothiocyante avidin
  • Avidin
  • Carboxypeptidases
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • chymase 2
  • Chymases
  • Tryptases
  • Fluorescein-5-isothiocyanate