Cite this as: S. Havard, A.-M. Scola, L. J. Kay, S. S. Ishmael, D. W. MacGlashan Jr and P. T. Peachell, Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2011 (41) 378–388.
Background Previous studies indicate that the protein tyrosine kinase, syk, is critical in transducing FcɛRI-mediated signals. In human basophils, ‘releasability’ has been linked to the extent of syk expression. Human lung mast cells, like basophils, are also found to be variably responsive to IgE-dependent activation.
Objective The aim of the present study was to determine whether the wide variability in human lung mast cell responses, following IgE-dependent activation, has a relationship with syk expression.
Methods Mast cells were isolated from human lung tissue and ‘releasability’ was determined by activating the cells with a maximal releasing concentration of anti-IgE. Syk levels in mast cells were determined by immunoblotting and flow cytometry.
Results Histamine release from mast cells, challenged with a maximal releasing concentration of anti-IgE, ranged from 0% to 69% (mean±SEM, 24±2%, n=53). A proportion of these preparations (nine out of 53) released very low levels of histamine (5%) in response to anti-IgE. Flow cytometry of a subset of preparations indicated that a weak response to anti-IgE was not related to a lack of surface IgE. Immunoblotting and flow cytometry studies demonstrated that, compared with mononuclear cells, human lung mast cells express low and variable levels of syk. However, there was no correlation between syk expression and mast cell releasability. Nonetheless, a number of putative inhibitors of syk including NVP-QAB205 (EC50, 0.2 μm) effectively attenuated the IgE-dependent release of histamine from mast cells.
Conclusion and clinical relevance These studies indicate that although syk may play an important role in mediating degranulation, the relative level of syk expression does not govern human lung mast cell releasability. Identification of the mechanisms that govern IgE-dependent activation of human lung mast cells is likely to be of wider clinical significance, given the central role that mast cells play in the development of allergic asthma.