Mast cells are increasingly recognized as critical players in elicitation and maintenance of different inflammatory related disorders, like allergy, autoimmne diseases and cancer. Mast cells maturate within the tissue and are able to adapt to microenvironmental changes. Together with the ability to produce multiple pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators upon activation, mast cells are highly capable of exerting immunomodulatory functions. Cross-linking of receptor bound IgE is the best known mechanism of antigen-specific mast cell activation. In this review we focus on a different route of activation, via immunoglobulin free light chains (FLCs). Here, we describe current knowledge and concepts on FLCs based on preclinical models and data on human subjects, after briefly recapitulating early research findings on FLCs. Furthermore, because FLC research mainly focuses on mast cells, several mast cell mediated pathologies and mouse models for mast cell research will be discussed. Whether targeting of mast cells is beneficial for the treatment of specific disorders has to be addressed in future studies. Specific inhibition of FLC-mediated mast cell activation may be an interesting avenue to treat chronic inflammatory diseases.
Keywords: Immunoglobulin free light chain, T cell factor, mast cells, inflammation, allergy, contact sensitivity, delayed type hypersensitivity