Clinical and laboratory parameters of mast cell activation as basis for the formulation of diagnostic criteria.
Mast cell (MC) activation occurs in a number of different pathologic conditions. Acute activation is commonly seen in patients with allergic reactions, with consecutive massive release of vasoactive and proinflammatory mediator substances from MCs, leading to the clinical signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis. In these patients, serum tryptase concentrations usually increase subtantially above baseline levels. Chronic MC activation is more difficult to diagnose, especially when symptoms are mild or atypical, and no underlying disease is found. In these patients, serum tryptase levels usually are normal. In a smaller group of patients, tryptase levels are constantly elevated and may point to an occult form of mastocytosis. These patients have to be examined for MC monoclonality, other criteria of a primary MC disease, non-MC hematopoietic neoplasms, and reactive disorders producing chronic MC activation or MC accumulation. In most patients in whom MC activation is found, histamine-induced symptoms can be documented and usually respond to treatment with histamine receptor antagonists or MC stabilizers. If this is not the case, alternative explanations for symptoms and differential diagnoses have to be considered.
Copyright © 2011 S. Karger AG, Basel.