Table of Contents
Mast Cell Definition
Mast Cell – a granulated LEUKOCYTE that resides in tissues throughout the body. When the IMMUNE RESPONSE stimulates mast cells, they release PROSTAGLANDINS, HISTAMINE, and other biochemicals from their granules. Mast cells are primarily responsible for the symptoms that are the hallmark of the HYPERSENSITIVITY REACTION: INFLAMMATION, itching, skin rash, coughing, and sneezing.
Mast cells have an abundant presence in the tissues of mucous membranes such as the nose, pulmonary tract (TRACHEA and bronchi), and gastrointestinal tract. Mast cells also infiltrate the connective tissues. They respond to the stimulation of complement factors and to IMMUNOGLOBULIN E (IgE) antibodies.
For further discussion of mast cells within the context of the structures and functions of the immune system, please see the overview section “The Immune System and Allergies.”