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J Exp Med. 1995 April 1; 181(4): 1373–1380.
PMCID: PMC2191950

Activated mast cells produce interleukin 13


When mast cells are activated through their immunoglobulin (Ig)E receptors, release of low molecular weight mediators like histamine is followed by secretion of multiple cytokines, including interleukin (IL)- 3, IL-4, IL-5, and granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor. Here we report that stimulated mast cells also synthesize IL-13 mRNA and protein; secretion of this cytokine may be of particular importance because of its ability to stimulate IgE expression. IL-13 transcripts detected by a semiquantitative reverse transcriptase-mediated polymerase chain reaction assay were induced within 30 min after stimulation of mast cells by dinitrophenyl plus monoclonal IgE anti- dinitrophenyl, and peaked at about 1 h. Within 3 h of IgE stimulation, secreted IL-13 bioactivity, estimated by proliferation of an IL-13- dependent cell line, reached levels equivalent to 1-2 ng/ml of IL-13. When added to human B lymphocytes, the mast cell-derived IL-13 activity (like bone fide IL-13) induced Ig C epsilon transcripts, DNA recombination characteristic of the isotype switch to C epsilon, and the secretion of IgE protein. These results suggest a model of local positive feedback interactions between mast cells and B cells, which could play a role in the pathogenesis of atopy.

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Selected References

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