Why are mast cells good?

After 120 years of research: discovered benefits of allergy cells

Mast cells ECAR
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For more than a hundred years, researchers such as Nobel laureate Paul Ehrlich puzzled over the benefits of mast cells found in the human body. These are involved in all allergic diseases and play an important role in the reaction to actual or putative foreign bodies in the organism.

After seven years of research, German scientists from the European Foundation for Allergy Research (ECARF) in the Department of Dermatology at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, as well as in Mainz and Hanover, together with American researchers from Stanford and Harvard, have revealed the secret: Mast cells build the body's own poison "Endothelin" 1 "(ET-1), control its deadly effects and thus have a life-saving function.

ET-1 is produced in almost all inflammatory reactions in the body, such as in a bacterial sepsis (blood poisoning). "We have long suspected that mast cells are important for maintaining good health, " explains Dr. Marcus Maurer, spokesman for the research group from the Charité, "otherwise the really dangerous cells would never have been spared evolution!"

Further investigations must now show whether mast cells or even mast cell products can be used in the future for the therapy of severe infections and other inflammatory diseases. The benefit of the mast cell, its health-preserving and life-saving function will be featured in the current issue of Nature.

(European Center for Allergy Research, 26.11.2004 - NPO)