The two faces of mast cells in food allergy and allergic asthma: the possible concept of Yin Yang.

Research paper by Aletta D AD Kraneveld, Seil S Sagar, Johan J Garssen, Gert G Folkerts

Indexed on: 16 Jul '11Published on: 16 Jul '11Published in: Biochimica et biophysica acta


The purpose of this review is to discuss the role of mast cells in allergic inflammation. We have focused on inflammation associated with allergic asthma and food allergy. Mast cells are 'first line of defense' innate/adaptive immune cells and are widely distributed in tissues in surfaces exposed to the environment. Especially in allergic settings mast cells are extensively studied, as they can be activated to release a wide range of mediators by allergen-IgE specific triggers. In addition, in allergic inflammation mast cells can also be activated non-allergic triggers. Recent studies revealed that mast cells, besides the classical role of pro-inflammatory effector cell, have also emerged as modulators of allergic sensitization and down-regulators of allergic inflammation. Therefore, mast cells can be regarded as 'Ying Yan' modulators in allergic responses in intestinal tract and airways. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Mast Cells in Inflammation.