Mast cells (MC) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE). In order to further evaluate their role, several morphological and functional studies were performed. Semiquantitative counts of histological sections showed a significant reduction in MC numbers in EAE brains. In addition, a higher proportion of EAE MC (about 50-70%) appeared degranulated compared with about 20% degranulation in controls. Central nervous system (CNS) MC exhibited staining properties of connective tissue MC and about 98% of them, both in diseased and control rats, were located in the thalamus. They were not present in the spinal cord and did not relate to EAE lesions. In vitro incubation of peritoneal MC (of connective tissue phenotype) with either MBP, or with neuropeptides such as substance P or bradykinin resulted in release of β-hexosaminidase and histamine. The latter responses were similar in both EAE and control rats. It is suggested that the decrease in number and in granular content of CNS MC in EAE may reflect prior in vivo activation. The fact that MC were activated by MBP and by neuropeptides in vitro suggests a possible mechanism of MC activation in EAE.
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Acknowledgements We thank Mrs. C Sicsic lor excellent technical assistance. This vs,o rk was supported in part by a grant from the Israel Multiple Sclerosis Society and by the Dr. Benjamine and Adelinc Boshes Endowment Fund.
- Experimental allergic encephalomyelitis
- Mast cells
- Myelin basic protein