Jpn. J. Pharmacol. 86 (1), 38-46 (2001)

Do Mucosal Mast Cells Contribute to the Immediate Asthma Response?

Zullies Ikawati1, Masato Nose2 and Kazutaka Maeyama1,*

1Department of Pharmacology and 2Department of Pathology II, Ehime University School of Medicine, Shigenobu-cho, Onsen-gun, Ehime 791-0295, Japan

*Corresponding author. FAX: +81-89-960-5263, E-mail:

Abstract: In rat trachea, two types of mast cells have been identified, connective tissue mast cells (CTMCs) and mucosal mast cells (MMCs). We previously reported that CTMCs play an important role in tracheal contraction in vitro via 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) release in a rat model. In this study, we investigated whether MMCs also play a role in tracheal contraction by employing mast cell-deficient (Ws/Ws) rats and their congenic (+/+) rats. Rats were actively sensitized with ovalbumin and challenged with it 2 weeks later. To exclude the influence of CTMCs, rats were pretreated for 7 days with compound 48/80 injected i.p. in increasing doses. Histological study confirmed that degranulation occurred in CTMCs, but MMCs still remained. Histamine levels in trachea decreased to 9.31% of control levels. Ovalbumin-specific IgE production showed a time-dependent increase in both Ws/Ws and +/+ rats after sensitization with no significantly different values between the two groups. Ovalbumin challenge caused contraction of the trachea in sensitized control (+/+) rats, but not in sensitized Ws/Ws and compound 48/80-pretreated +/+ rats. Ketanserin inhibited the contraction, but leukotriene antagonist ONO-1078 did not, indicating that the contraction was due to 5-HT, whereas leukotriene, a mediator specific derived from MMCs, has no significant effect. The results suggest that MMCs has minimal, if any, contribution to tracheal contraction and might have another function. Furthermore, Ws/Ws and the congenic rats provide a good model for studying the role of mast cells in the immunologic response in airways.

Keywords: 5-Hydroxytryptamine, Ovalbumin, Mast cell heterogeneity, Ws/Ws rat, Tracheal contraction
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