Histological aspects and role of mast cells in Helicobacter pylori-infected gastritis

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Abstract

Background

Mast cells are one of the main pro-inflammatory cells, while their knowledge in Helicobacter pylori infection has not been summarized.

Methods

We reviewed studies on mast cells in H. pylori infection, and summarized the histological aspects and roles.

Results

The density of mast cells is greater in H. pylori-infected than in non-infected subjects. Increased mast cell density in infected gastritis significantly decreases after eradication. On electron microscopy, mast cells in infected gastric mucosa show degranulation. Some experimental studies demonstrate that mast cells are degranulated with H. pylori-derived products.

Conclusions

Mast cells are actively involved in the pathogenesis of H. pylori-infected gastritis. The possible roles are to initiate and promote the formation of oedema through degranulated and secreted mediators, and to release multiple chemotactic factors, which induce inflammatory cells to infiltrate to the site of oedema, showing acute inflammatory changes. Mast cells also stimulate the degradation of pericellular matrices and the growth of cells in their vicinity, and thereby promote tissue turnover. In chronic H. pylori infection, these reactions continue until the bacteria are eradicated. Mast cells may act both to maintain gastritis and to repair tissue damage in H. pylori-infected chronic gastritis.

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