Human mast cells (MCs) and basophils play a key role in the pathogenesis of allergic disorders, not only by producing inflammatory and fibrogenic mediators, but also by directly and indirectly secreting various cytokines and chemokines. Although mast cells and basophils have differences in many properties, recent evidence suggests that human MCs and basophils may be derived from a common progenitor, and their contents and phenotypes may be reversibly altered in a variety of allergic disorders. The study of FcεRI signalling of mast cell and basophils offers new opportunities for therapeutic interventions based on the specific inhibition of the earliest events in allergic diseases. This article reviews the origin, differentiation, morphology and phenotypic properties of MCs and basophils, focussing particularly on the possible pathogenic role of MCs and basophils in allergy and biochemical targets for therapeutic interventions in allergic diseases.
Keywords: hemopoietic cells, mast cell, basophil lineages, allergy, human mast cells, fibrogenic mediators, cytokines, chemokines
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