• human;
  • skin;
  • mast cells;
  • inflammation;
  • cytokines

Abstract: Several groups have previously reported that rodent or human leukemic mast cells produce inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α and IL-8 as well as the pro-allergic cytokines IL-4, IL-5 and IL-13. Comparatively little is known, however, regarding the ability of normal human skin mast cells to secrete these factors following either IgE-dependent or IgE-independent modes of activation. We therefore investigated whether normal human skin mast cells produce these cytokines following stimulation by a variety of secretagogues. Enriched isolated skin mast cells released both TNF-α and IL-8 following activation with either anti-IgE, SCF, substance P, compound 48/80 or A23187. This release was dose- and time-dependent, with maximal levels being reached within 4 h of stimulation involving, in part, the secretion of preformed stores of both cytokines. In accordance with this, using lysates of highly purified (>90%) skin mast cells, we could demonstrate that both TNF-α and IL-8 mRNA and protein were present in both unstimulated as well as stimulated mast cells. In stark contrast to these results, no significant levels of either IL-4, IL-5 or IL-13 were detected, regardless of the secretagogue used or the period of stimulation. These results show that human skin mast cells are capable of rapidly secreting pro-inflammatory cytokines like TNF-α and IL-8 following IgE-dependent activation and stimulation by the neuropeptide substance P, SCF and the basic polypeptide analogue compound 48/80. In contrast to other types of human mast cells however, human skin mast cells were incapable of secreting IL-4, IL-5 or IL-13 in these settings.