New Developments in Mast Cell Biology: Clinical Implications

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Abstract

Mast cells (MCs) are present in connective tissue and at mucosal surfaces in all classes of vertebrates. In health, they contribute to tissue homeostasis, host defense, and tissue repair via multiple receptors regulating the release of a vast stockpile of proinflammatory mediators, proteases, and cytokines. However, these potentially protective cells are a double-edged sword. When there is a repeated or long-term stimulus, MC activation leads to tissue damage and dysfunction. Accordingly, MCs are implicated in the pathophysiologic aspects of numerous diseases covering all organs. Understanding the biology of MCs, their heterogeneity, mechanisms of activation, and signaling cascades may lead to the development of novel therapies for many diseases for which current treatments are lacking or are of poor efficacy. This review will focus on updates and developments in MC biology and their clinical implications, with a particular focus on their role in respiratory diseases.

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