Mast cells, best known as effector cells in pathogenic immunoglobulin-mediated responses, can sense a variety of “danger” signals; if manipulated to enhance their resulting inflammatory responses, they also exacerbate inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and lung inflammation.
Mast cells are implicated in the pathogenesis of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. However, this notion based on studies in mast cell-deficient mice is controversial. We therefore established an in vivo model for hyperactive mast cells by specifically ablating the NF-κB negative feedback regulator A20. While A20 deficiency did not affect mast cell degranulation, it resulted in amplified pro-inflammatory responses downstream of IgE/FcεRI, TLRs, IL-1R, and IL-33R. As a consequence house dust mite- and IL-33-driven lung inflammation, late phase cutaneous anaphylaxis, and collagen-induced arthritis were aggravated, in contrast to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and immediate anaphylaxis. Our results provide in vivo evidence that hyperactive mast cells can exacerbate inflammatory disorders and define diseases that might benefit from therapeutic intervention with mast cell function.
Mast cells mediate allergic and anaphylactic immune reactions. They are also equipped with innate pattern recognition, cytokine, and alarmin receptors, which induce inflammatory responses. Correlative studies in human patients hinted at roles for mast cells in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. However, studies using mast cell-deficient mice have yielded contradictory results in this context. In this study we determined that A20, the negative feedback regulator, restricts inflammation downstream of the mast cell antigen (allergen) receptor module, innate pattern recognition receptors, and the alarmin receptor IL-33R. By mast cell–specific ablation of A20 we established a mouse model for exaggerated inflammatory but normal anaphylactic mast cell signaling. With these mice we evaluated the impact of increased mast cell-mediated inflammation under experimental conditions aimed at mimicking several inflammatory human diseases. Our results demonstrated that the lack of A20 from mast cells exacerbated disease in mouse models for rheumatoid arthritis and innate forms of asthma, but did not impact disease progression in a mouse model for multiple sclerosis. Our data provide direct evidence that enhanced inflammatory mast cell responses can contribute to disease pathology and do so via sensing and amplifying local inflammatory reactions driven by “danger” stimuli and/or tissue damage that leads to the release of alarmins.