[Sex differences in neuromodulation of mucosal mast cells in the rat jejunum]

Langenbecks Arch Chir. 1997;382(3):157-63.
[Article in German]


The effect of electrical stimulation of both cervical vagal nerves on mucosal mast cells in the jejunum was investigated in an in vivo animal model with rats of both sexes. Males showed a significant increase of mast cell densities after electrical stimulation (1.0 mA, 5 Hz, 5 ms, 12 min) in the lamina propria. Simultaneously, we observed a significant increase of tissue histamine levels (ANOVA: P < 0.05), whereas serum levels remained unchanged. However, even though females had significantly higher levels throughout compared to males (ANOVA: P < 0.05), they did not show any significant reaction to electrical stimulation. These in vivo data support morphological and in vitro data from other investigators, who hypothesized a functional interaction between mucosal mast cells and nerves. However, degranulation seems to be a poor in situ indicator for mast-cell stimulation, as mast-cell densities increased in males, while the percentage of degranulated cells remained the same in all groups (about 40%). Instead, electrical stimulation of the vagal nerve seems to trigger histamine synthesis, or simply stabilization of mast cells. Interestingly, this phenomenon seems to be sex-dependent, suggesting a regulatory role for sex hormones in this scenario.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / ultrastructure
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / physiology
  • Histamine / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / innervation
  • Jejunum / cytology*
  • Jejunum / innervation
  • Male
  • Mast Cells / cytology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology*


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Histamine