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Research article2012Peer reviewedOpen access

Mast Cell Proteoglycans

Rönnberg, Elin; Melo, Fabio Rabelo; Pejler, Gunnar


Mast cells are versatile effector cells of the immune system, contributing to both innate and adaptive immunity toward pathogens but also having profound detrimental activities in the context of inflammatory disease. A hallmark morphological feature of mast cells is their large content of cytoplasmic secretory granules, filled with numerous secretory compounds, including highly negatively charged heparin or chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans of serglycin type. These anionic proteoglycans provide the basis for the strong metachromatic staining properties of mast cells seen when applying various cationic dyes. Functionally, the mast cell proteoglycans have been shown to have an essential role in promoting the storage of other granule-contained compounds, including bioactive monoamines and different mast cell-specific proteases. Moreover, granule proteoglycans have been shown to regulate the enzymatic activities of mast cell proteases and to promote apoptosis. Here, the current knowledge of mast cell proteoglycans is reviewed. (J Histochem Cytochem 60:950-962, 2012)


mast cells; proteoglycans; secretory granules; serglycin; proteases

Published in

Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry
2012, Volume: 60, number: 12, pages: 950-962