We have developed a procedure for the dispersion of mast cells from the intestinal lamina propria (LP) and epithelium of rats infected with the intestinal nematode, Nippostrongylus brasiliensis. The dispersed cells are morphologically and histochemically similar to intestinal mucosal mast cells (MMC) in situ and are distinguishable from peritoneal mast cells (PMC). MMC derived from the LP or epithelium of parasitized animals secrete histamine in response to the specific parasite antigens as well as anti-IgE. Unlike PMC, these cells are unresponsive to the basic secretagogues 48/80 and bee venom peptide 401. Similarly, bee venom peptide 401 conjugated with dansyl chloride binds to PMC and mast cells in the thymus and intestinal serosa, but not to mast cells in or derived from the intestinal LP and epithelium. Studies on PMC treated by the intestinal cell isolation procedure show that the functional characteristics of the MMC cannot be solely attributed to the isolation procedure. Thus, MMC have been isolated and shown to be morphologically, histochemically, and functionally different from PMC, as suggested by previous in vivo studies of the normal intestine.

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