Purpose: It is well appreciated that mast cells (MCs) demonstrate tissue-specific imprinting, with different biochemical and functional properties between connective tissue MCs (CTMCs) and mucosal MCs (MMCs). Although in vitro systems have been developed to model these different subsets, there has been limited investigation into the functional characteristics of the 2 major MC subsets. Here, we report the immunologic characterization of 2 MCs subsets developed in vitro from bone marrow progenitors modeling MMCs and CTMCs. Methods: We grew bone marrow for 4 weeks in the presence of transforming growth factor (TGF)-ß, interleukin (IL)-9, IL-3, and stem cell factor (SCF) to generate MMCs, and IL-4, IL-3, and SCF to generate CTMCs. Results: CTMCs and MMCs differed in growth rate and protease content, but their immune characteristics were remarkably similar. Both subsets responded to immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated activation with signaling, degranulation, and inflammatory cytokine release, although differences between subsets were noted in IL-10. CTMCs and MMCs showed a similar toll-like receptor (TLR) expression profile, dominated by expression of TLR4, TLR6, or both subsets were responsive to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), but not poly(I:C). CTMCs and MMCs express receptors for IL-33 and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), and respond to these cytokines alone or with modified activation in response to IgE cross-linking. Conclusions: The results of this paper show the immunologic characterization of bone marrow-derived MMCs and CTMCs, providing useful protocols for in vitro modeling of MC subsets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-277
Number of pages10
JournalAllergy, Asthma and Immunology Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2018


  • Connective tissue mast cells
  • Mast cell subsets
  • Mucosal mast cells


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