Immunohistochemical localization of mast cells and mast cell-nerve interactions in oral lichen planus

Oral Dis. 1997 Jun;3(2):71-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-0825.1997.tb00015.x.


Objectives: Mast cell mediators are likely to be involved in at least some aspects of the immunopathogenesis of oral lichen planus (OLP). The aim of this project was to map mast cell populations in OLP and identify possible sites of mast cell-nerve interactions.

Materials and methods: Monoclonal antibodies specific for tryptase and neurofilaments were used to identify mast cells and nerves respectively in an immunohistochemical study of OLP (n = 25) and normal oral buccal mucosa (NOBM) (n = 13) using a double-labelling protocol. Data analysis used paired t-test, multiway analysis of variance and Wilcoxon rank tests.

Results: Morphometric analyses showed the greatest mast cell density in the most superficial of the three depth layers examined in OLP, an increase of 130% compared with NOBM. Mast cells associated with neurofilaments ranged from 21.9% in OLP to 10.2% in NOBM. Mean epithelial thickness was significantly lower in OLP (P < 0.001) but without a strong correlation with mast cell density.

Conclusions: Increased mast cell and mast cell-nerve interactions in OLP suggest both a controlling role over the lesional cell populations and a secondary role to the immune response once this becomes established.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cell Count
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lichen Planus, Oral / immunology*
  • Mast Cells / physiology*
  • Mouth Mucosa / immunology*
  • Mouth Mucosa / innervation
  • Nerve Fibers
  • Neuroimmunomodulation
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Statistics, Nonparametric