Properties of Mast Cells and Basophils

All mast cells are derived from progenitors in the bone marrow. Normally, mature mast cells are not found in the circulation. Progenitors migrate to the peripheral tissues as immature cells and undergo differentiation in situ. Mature mast cells are found throughout the body, predominantly near blood vessels (Fig. 19-2A) and nerves and beneath epithelia. They are also present in lymphoid organs. Human mast cells vary in shape and have round nuclei, and the cytoplasm contains membrane-bound granules and lipid bodies. The granules contain acidic proteoglycans that bind basic dyes.

TABLE 19-1 Properties of Mast Cells, Basophils, and Eosinophils

Characteristic

Mast Cells

Basophils

Eosinophils

Major site of maturation

Connective tissue

Bone marrow

Bone marrow

Major cells in circulation

No

Yes (0.5% of blood leukocytes)

Yes (-2% of blood leukocytes)

Mature cells recruited into tissues from circulation

No

Yes

Yes

Mature cells residing in connective tissue

Yes

No

Yes

Proliferative ability of mature cells

Yes

No

No

Life span

Weeks to months

Days

Days to weeks

Major development factor (cytokine)

Stem cell factor, IL-3

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