Mast cells are potent effectors playing a key role in IgE-associated hypersensitivity reactions, allergic disorders, inflammation and protective immune responses. Mast cell development in vivo occurs mainly in non-hematopoietic microenvironments and increased mast cell numbers can be seen in various inflammatory diseases and pathologic conditions. SCF (also known as kit ligand or KitL) and c-kit signaling are essential for both human and murine mast cell development, while IL-3 is required for murine mast cell hyperplasia that occurs in response to various stimuli. Besides SCF and IL-3, the cytokines IL-4, IL-9, IL-10 and IL-13 are also called mast cell growth factors due to their actions synergistically promoting mast cell proliferation and differentiation in the presence of SCF or IL- 3. These cytokines alone however are unable to support neither the proliferation nor survival of mast cells. Most research has focused on examining the direct effects of the above cytokines on mast cells or their precursors. However, it is difficult to explain the process of mast cell development only in terms of the above mast cell growth factors. A series of experiments in our laboratory and by others has revealed that inflammatory mediators and cytokines, as triggers or regulators, are also crucial for mast cell development. This review summarizes recent progress in our understanding of how various inflammatory factors regulate mast cell development, with particular focus on the effects of prostaglandin E (PGE), TNF-α, IL-6, IFN-γ and an unknown apoptosis-inducing factor produced by IL-4-stimulated macrophages.
Keywords: Mast cell development, mast cell growth factor, inflammatory factors, prostaglandin E, IL-4, IL-6, IFN-γ, TNF-α
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