UNIT 7.25 Isolation of Tissue Mast Cells

  1. Marianna Kulka1,
  2. Dean D. Metcalfe2

Published Online: 1 AUG 2010

DOI: 10.1002/0471142735.im0725s90

Current Protocols in Immunology

Current Protocols in Immunology

How to Cite

Kulka, M. and Metcalfe, D. D. 2010. Isolation of Tissue Mast Cells. Current Protocols in Immunology. 90:IV:7.25:7.25.1–7.25.11.

Author Information

  1. 1

    National Research Council Canada, Institute for Nutrisciences and Health, Charlottetown, Prince Edward, Island, Canada

  2. 2

    Laboratory of Allergic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 AUG 2010
  2. Published Print: AUG 2010


Located primarily in tissues, mast cells are one of the principal effector cells in allergic inflammation. Mast cells derive from mononuclear precursor cells which undergo their final phase of differentiation in the tissues. Mast cells express a unique set of proteases and display functional diversity depending on the tissue in which they differentiate—a phenomenon often referred to as mast cell heterogeneity. Enzymatic digestion and density centrifugation have often been used to isolate human mast cells from tissues such as lung and skin, frequently resulting in cells with low viability and purity. Here, we describe a protocol that combines gentle enzymatic digestion with positive selection techniques to isolate reasonably viable and substantially enriched preparations of tissue mast cells. Curr. Protoc. Immunol. 90:7.25.1-7.25.11. © 2010 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  • mast cells;
  • human mast cells;
  • lung, skin;
  • fluorescent activated cell sorting (FACS);
  • magnetic bead columns