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September 1986

Allergy and AntihistaminesA New Riddle

Author Affiliations

Director of Medical Pharmacology Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology Tufts University School of Medicine 136 Harrison Ave Boston, MA 02111

Arch Dermatol. 1986;122(9):995-996. doi:10.1001/archderm.1986.01660210045014

Mast cells were originally identified in 1877 by Paul Ehrlich, who was fascinated by the metachromasia of their numerous granules and, in the absence of any particular function, used the expression "the riddle of the mast cell."1 One hundred years later, an editorial was entitled "Mast Cells: A Fascinating Riddle"2 because of the ubiquitous presence of mast cells but their still unresolved pathophysiology.3 Most of the attention has, of course, focused on mast-cell involvement in allergic and anaphylactoid reactions where immunoglobulin E (IgE) and a specific antigen combine on mast-cell surfaces to lead to exocytotic secretion of numerous mediators.4,5 In spite of vigorous research, the available medications are largely ineffective in inhibiting mast-cell degranulation.6,7 The most definitive evidence of an inhibitory mechanism of action has been the phosphorylation of a 78 000-dalton protein by disodium cromoglycate.8 Below, we will briefly address some new findings

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