Physical interactions between mast cells and eosinophils: A novel mechanism enhancing eosinophil survival in vitro

M. Elishmereni, H. T. Alenius, P. Bradding, S. Mizrahi, A. Shikotra, Y. Minai-Fleminger, D. Mankuta, R. Eliashar, G. Zabucchi, F. Levi-Schaffer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Background: Mast cells (MCs) and eosinophils (Eos) are the key effector cells of the allergic reaction. Although classically associated with different stages of the response, the cells co-exist in the inflamed tissue in the late and chronic phases in high numbers and are likely to cross-talk. While some mediators of MCs are known to affect Eos biology and vice versa, paracrine and physical interplay between the two cells has not been described yet. We aimed to investigate whether intercellular MC-Eos communication could take place in the allergic response and exert functional bidirectional changes on the cells. Methods: Tissue sections from various allergic disorders were specifically stained for both cells. Human cord blood-derived MCs and peripheral blood Eos, co-cultured under different conditions, were studied by advanced microscopy and flow cytometry. Results: Several co-localized MC-Eos pairs were detected in human nasal polyps and asthmatic bronchi, as well in mouse atopic dermatitis. In vitro, MCs and Eos formed stable conjugates at high rates, with clear membrane contact. In the presence of MCs, Eos were significantly more viable under several co-culture conditions and at both IgE-activated and steroid-inhibited settings. MC regulation of Eos survival required communication through soluble mediators but was even more dependent on physical cell-cell contact. Conclusions: Our findings provide the first evidence for a complex network of paracrine and membrane interactions between MCs and Eos. The prosurvival phenotype induced by this MC-Eos interplay may be critical for sustaining chronic allergic inflammation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)376-385
Number of pages10
JournalAllergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • allergic inflammation
  • cell-cell contact
  • eosinophils
  • immunologic synapse
  • mast cells


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