Mast cells and mastocytosis.
Mast cells have been recognized for well over 100 years. With time, human mast cells have been documented to originate from CD34+ cells, and have been implicated in host responses in both innate and acquired immunity. In clinical immunology, they are recognized for their central role in IgE-mediated degranulation and allergic inflammation by virtue of their expression of the high-affinity receptor for IgE and release of potent proinflammatory mediators. In hematology, the clinical disease of mastocytosis is characterized by a pathologic increase of mast cells in tissues, often associated with mutations in KIT, the receptor for stem cell factor. More recently, and with increased understanding of how human mast cells are activated through receptors including the high-affinity receptor for IgE and KIT, specific tyrosine kinase inhibitors have been identified with the potential to interrupt signaling pathways and thus limit the proliferation of mast cells as well as their activation through immunoglobulin receptors.