Background: Mast cells have recently gained new importance as immunoregulatory cells that are involved in numerous pathological processes. One result of these processes is an increase in mast cell numbers at peripheral sites. This study was undertaken to determine the mast cell response in the peritoneal cavity and bone marrow during repopulation of the peritoneal cavity in rats.Results: Two mast cell specific antibodies, mAb AA4 and mAb BGD6, were used to distinguish the committed mast cell precursor from more mature mast cells. The peritoneal cavity was depleted of mast cells using distilled water. Twelve hours after distilled water injection, very immature mast cells could be isolated from the blood and by 48 hours were present in the peritoneal cavity. At this same time the percentage of mast cells in mitosis increased fourfold. Mast cell depletion of the peritoneal cavity also reduced the total number of mast cells in the bone marrow, but increased the number of mast cell committed precursors.Conclusions: In response to mast cell depletion of the peritoneal cavity, a mast cell progenitor is released into the circulation and participates in repopulation of the peritoneal cavity, while the committed mast cell precursor is retained in the bone marrow.
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