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Are Gastrointestinal Mucosal Mast Cells Increased in Patients With Systemic Mastocytosis?

Sabine I. Siegert MD, Joachim Diebold MD, PhD, Dagmar Ludolph-Hauser MD, Udo Löhrs MD, PhD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/2880LF7Q6XK3HA3Q 560-565 First published online: 1 October 2004


In patients with mastocytosis, gastrointestinal symptoms are a frequent phenomenon. However, there are only limited data about the quantity and distribution pattern of mast cells in the gastrointestinal mucosa. We stained gastroduodenal biopsy specimens from 27 patients with mastocytosis and 48 control subjects for mast cell tryptase, CD117, and CD25. The numbers of mucosal mast cells per high-power field showed wide variation in all groups and were decreased markedly in biopsy specimens of corpus and duodenum and statistically significantly decreased in antrum biopsy specimens from patients with systemic mastocytosis compared with patients with pure urticaria pigmentosa and with control subjects. Staining for tryptase showed highly significant correlation with staining for CD117. All mast cells were negative for CD25, which is expressed characteristically by neoplastic mast cells. Causes of the decrease of mucosal mast cells remain enigmatic, but our results show that gastrointestinal symptoms of patients with mastocytosis are most likely mediator-related and not due to an increase of local mast cells.

Key Words:
  • Mastocytosis
  • Mast cell count
  • Gastrointestinal mucosa