Mast cell heterogeneity underlies different manifestations of food allergy in mice

Sara Benedé, M. Cecilia Berin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Food can trigger a diverse array of symptoms in food allergic individuals from isolated local symptoms affecting skin or gut to multi-system severe reactions (systemic anaphylaxis). Although we know that gastrointestinal and systemic manifestations of food allergy are mediated by tissue mast cells (MCs), it is not clear why allergen exposure by the oral route can result in such distinct clinical manifestations. Our aim was to assess the contribution of mast cell subsets to different manifestations of food allergy. We used two common models of IgE-mediated food allergy, one resulting in systemic anaphylaxis and the other resulting in acute gastrointestinal symptoms, to study the immune basis of allergic reactions. We used responders and non-responders in each model system, as well as naïve controls to identify the association of mast cell activation with clinical reactivity rather than sensitization. Systemic anaphylaxis was uniquely associated with activation of connective tissue mast cells (identified by release of mouse mast cell protease (MMCP) -7 into the serum) and release of histamine, while activation of mucosal mast cells (identified by release of MMCP-1 in the serum) did not correlate with symptoms. Gastrointestinal manifestations of food allergy were associated with an increase of MMCP-1-expressing mast cells in the intestine, and evidence of both mucosal and connective tissue mast cell activation. The data presented in this paper demonstrates that mast cell heterogeneity is an important contributor to manifestations of food allergy, and identifies the connective tissue mast cell subset as key in the development of severe systemic anaphylaxis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0190453
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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