In rodents, fibroblasts (FBs) mediate stem cell factor (SCF)-dependent growth of mast cells (MCs). In humans, SCF is mandatory for MC differentiation and survival. Other factors such as IL-3, IL-4, and nerve growth factor (NGF) act in synergism with SCF, thus enhancing proliferation and/or preventing apoptosis in MCs. In this study, we studied in vitro interactions between human MCs and human FBs, both isolated from the intestine and purified to homogeneity. In coculture with FBs, MCs survived for up to 3 wk, whereas purified MCs cultured alone died within a few days. TNF-α and IL-1β, which both did not affect MC survival directly, enhanced FB-dependent MC growth. We provide evidence that FB-derived MC growth factors are soluble, heat-sensitive molecules which down-regulate MC apoptosis without enhancing MC proliferation. However, only low amounts of SCF were measured in FB-conditioned medium (<0. 2 ng/ml). Moreover, blocking of SCF/c-kit interaction by anti-SCF or anti-c-kit Abs and neutralization of IL-3, IL-4, and NGF did not affect MC survival in the coculture system. In conclusion, our data indicate that human FBs promote survival of human MCs by mechanisms independent of SCF, IL-3, IL-4, and NGF. Such interactions between MCs and FBs may explain why MCs accumulate at sites of inflammatory bowel disease and intestinal fibrosis.