The number and functional reactivity of peritoneal mast cells (MCs) were evaluated in rats with experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE). Cells were counted following staining with toluidine blue and activation was measured by B-hexosaminidase (B-hex) release. The number of detectable MCs and their capacity to release B-hex decreased significantly by 40 and 65%, respectively, as compared with normal controls just prior to the onset of clinical signs. These values returned to normal on clinical recovery. Preliminary data on MC counts performed on histological sections of rat brains with EAE suggested a similar pattern of response, i.e., an early decrease prior to disease onset with subsequent normalization on recovery. In an attempt to modify the course of EAE, rats were treated with the MC stabilizing agent nedocromil or with the MC activating agent, compound 48/80. Nedocromil induced a slight delay in the onset of EAE, but only when administered at the time of EAE induction. Compound 48/80 did not seem to affect the clinical course of the disease. Our results suggest that MCs are involved in the pathogenesis of EAE and may contribute to the induction of the disease rather than to the effector phase and its clinical expression.
- Mast cells
- experimental allergic encephalomyelitis