Chronic allergic diseases and other disorders associated with mast cell activation can also be associated with tissue fibrosis, but a direct link between mast cell mediator release and fibroblast collagen gene expression has not been established. Using in situ hybridization, we show that the elicitation of an IgE-dependent passive cutaneous anaphylaxis (PCA) reaction in mice results in a transient, but marked augmentation of steady state levels of type alpha-1 (I) collagen mRNA in the dermis. While peak levels of collagen mRNA expression in the skin are observed 16-24 h after mast cell activation, substantial numbers of dermal cells are strongly positive for collagen mRNA at 1 and 2 h after antigen challenge, before circulating inflammatory cells are recruited into the tissues. Furthermore, experiments in mast cell-reconstituted or genetically mast cell-deficient WBB6F1-W/Wv mice demonstrate that the increased expression of collagen mRNA at sites of PCA reactions is entirely mast cell dependent. In vitro studies show that the supernatants of mouse serosal mast cells activated via the Fc epsilon RI markedly increase type alpha-1 (I) collagen mRNA levels in mouse embryonic skin fibroblasts, and also upregulate collagen secretion by these cells. The ability of mast cell supernatants to induce increased steady state levels of collagen mRNA in mouse skin fibroblasts is markedly diminished by absorption with antibodies specific for either of two mast cell-derived cytokines, transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta 1) or tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), and is eliminated entirely by absorption with antibodies against both cytokines. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that IgE-dependent mouse mast cell activation can induce a transient and marked increase in steady state levels of type alpha-1 (I) collagen mRNA in dermal fibroblasts and that mast cell-derived TGF-beta 1 and TNF-alpha importantly contribute to this effect.

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