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Laboratory Sciences
April 1999

Human Conjunctival Mast Cells: Expression of FcϵRI, c-kit, ICAM-1, and IgE

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine (Drs Stahl and Graziano and Ms Cook) and Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (Dr Barney), School of Medicine, University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1999;117(4):493-497. doi:10.1001/archopht.117.4.493

Objective  To characterize the expression and regulation of conjunctival mast cell surface receptors important in allergic inflammation.

Methods  Mast cells were isolated from human conjunctival tissues of cadavers. Mast cell surface markers were identified using flow cytometry with antibodies to IgE, FcϵRI, c-kit, and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1). We evaluated the effect of 24-hour tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) or interleukin 4 (IL-4) incubation on the expression of mast cell c-kit, ICAM-1, and surface-bound IgE.

Results  Staining of mast cells (c-kit and/or tryptase positive) yielded positive results for all of the variables measured. The intensity of mast cell c-kit staining increased with TNF-α incubation, but decreased below that of unstimulated mast cells when incubated with IL-4. Anti–ICAM-1 and anti–IgE staining were increased over that of unstimulated cells when incubated with TNF-α or IL-4.

Conclusions  In this model, TNF-α up-regulates mast cell surface receptors and cell-bound IgE. Interleukin 4 up-regulates mast cell ICAM-1 and cell-bound IgE, but down-regulates c-kit.

Clinical Relevance  Conjunctival mast cells play a critical role in the pathogenesis of atopic ocular disease. Characterization of the expression and regulation of mast cell surface receptors is important to the development of potential novel treatments for ocular inflammation.