Mast cells and their activation in lung disease

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Abstract

Mast cells and their activation contribute to lung health via innate and adaptive immune responses to respiratory pathogens. They are also involved in the normal response to tissue injury. However, mast cells are involved in disease processes characterized by inflammation and remodeling of tissue structure. In these diseases mast cells are often inappropriately and chronically activated. There is evidence for activation of mast cells contributing to the pathophysiology of asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension. They may also play a role in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and lung cancer. The diverse mechanisms through which mast cells sense and interact with the external and internal microenvironment account for their role in these diseases. Newly discovered mechanisms of redistribution and interaction between mast cells, airway structural cells, and other inflammatory cells may offer novel therapeutic targets in these disease processes.

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