Increase of mast cells in the liver and lung may be associated with but not a cause of fibrosis: demonstration using mast cell-deficient Ws/Ws rats

Lab Invest. 1998 Nov;78(11):1431-8.


Tissue fibrosis is frequently associated with an increase of mast cells, and mast cells are regarded as playing a role in the induction of tissue fibrosis. We attempted to examine whether mast cells influenced the induction of fibrosis using Ws/Ws mast cell-deficient rats. The mast cell deficiency of Ws/Ws rats is due to a 12-base pair deletion of the c-kit gene. The activity of c-kit receptor tyrosine kinase is remarkably reduced in Ws/Ws rats. Liver fibrosis was induced by the repeated injections of pig serum, and lung fibrosis was induced by the instillation of bleomycin. Marked fibrosis in the liver and lung did occur in the Ws/Ws rats, and the magnitude of fibrosis was more severe in Ws/Ws rats than in control normal (+/+) rats. The mast cell increase was observed in the liver of +/+ and Ws/Ws rats and in the lung of +/+ rats. However, the number of mast cells in the liver of treated Ws/Ws rats with marked fibrosis was comparable to that observed in the liver of nontreated +/+ rats without fibrosis. Histamine content increased in the liver and lung of +/+ rats after the treatment, but it remained in low levels even after the treatment in Ws/Ws rats. Mast cells and histamine did not appear to play important roles in the induction of fibrosis. Thus, an increase in mast cell number and histamine content may be associated with but not a cause of fibrosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Hydroxyproline / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Experimental / pathology*
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Male
  • Mast Cells / pathology*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Mutant Strains


  • Hydroxyproline