The master switch: The role of mast cells in autoimmunity and tolerance

Blayne A. Sayed, Alison Christy, Mary R. Quirion, Melissa A. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations


There are many parallels between allergic and autoimmune responses. Both are considered hypersensitivity responses: pathologies that are elicited by an exuberant reaction to antigens that do not pose any inherent danger to the organism. Mthough mast cells have long been recognized as central players in allergy, only recently has their role in autoimmunity become apparent. Because of the commonalities of these responses, much of what we have learned about the underlying mast cell-dependent mechanisms of inflammatory damage in allergy and asthma can be used to understand autoimmunity. Here we review mast cell biology in the context of autoimmune disease. We discuss the huge diversity in mast cell responses that can exert either proinflammatory or antiinflammatory activity. We also consider the myriad factors that cause one response to predominate over another in a particular immune setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)705-739
Number of pages35
JournalAnnual Review of Immunology
StatePublished - 2008


  • Adaptive immunity
  • EAE
  • Hypersensitivity responses
  • MS
  • Mast cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'The master switch: The role of mast cells in autoimmunity and tolerance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this