Human mast cells exhibit an individualized pattern of antimicrobial responses

Karen M Garcia-Rodriguez, Rajia Bahri, Clara Sattentau, Ian S Roberts, Anu Goenka, Silvia Bulfone-Paus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction: Mast cells (MCs) are tissue‐resident immune cells implicated in antibacterial responses. These include chemokine secretion, degranulation, and the release of mast cell‐extracellular traps, which are primarily dependent on reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Our study investigated whether human mast cells (hMCs) develop individual response patterns to bacteria located at different tissue sites: Escherichia coli (gut commensal), Listeria monocytogenes (foodborne intracellular pathogen), Staphylococcus aureus (skin commensal and opportunistic pathogen), and Streptococcus pneumoniae (upper respiratory tract commensal and lung pathogen).

Methods: After live bacteria exposure, hMCs were analyzed by a combined flow cytometry assay for degranulation, ROS production, DNA externalization, and for β‐hexosaminidase, chemokine, and prostaglandin release.

Results: L. monocytogenes induced hMC degranulation, IL‐8 and MCP‐1 release coupled with DNA externalization in a novel hMC ROS independent manner. In contrast, S. pneumoniae caused ROS production without DNA release and degranulation. E. coli induced low levels of hMC degranulation combined with interleukin 8 and MCP‐1 secretion and in the absence of ROS and DNA externalization. Finally, S. aureus induced hMCs prostaglandin D2 release and DNA release selectively. Our findings demonstrate a novel hMC phenomenon of DNA externalization independent of ROS production. We also showed that ROS production, degranulation, DNA externalization, and mediator secretion occur as independent immune reactions in hMCs upon bacterial encounter and that hMCs contribute to bacterial clearance.

Conclusions: Thus, hMCs exhibit a highly individualized pattern of immune response possibly to meet tissue requirements and regulate bacteria coexistence vs defense.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalImmunity, Inflammation and Disease
Early online date28 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Mar 2020


  • degranulation
  • Escherichia coli
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • mast cell extracellular traps
  • mast cells
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae


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