Mast cells, when incubated in vitro with hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and iodide, are cytotoxic to schistosomula of Schistosoma mansoni, as determined morphologically by dye exclusion, motility, and refractility and by transmission and scanning electron microscopy. When intact mast cells were incubated with schistosomula, mast cell degranulation with extracellular release of mast cell granules (MCG) was only observed in the presence of added H2O2 (10(-4) M). The secreted MCG, which contain small amounts of endogenous peroxidase activity, adhered to the surface of schistosomula. By 15 to 30 min, the mast cell-H2O2 system in the presence of iodide (10(-4) M) produced marked disruption of the tegumental and internal structures of the schistosomula. No helminthic damage was noted if any component of the incubation mixture (mast cells, H2O2 or iodide) was omitted. MCG could substitute for intact mast cells in the H2O2 and iodide-dependent cytotoxic system; MCG-mediated killing of schistosomula was inhibited by the hemeprotein inhibitor azide, suggesting that the cytotoxic reaction required endogenous peroxidase. The cytotoxicity was increased by eosinophil peroxidase bound to the MCG surface. These findings suggest a mechanism by which mast cells may contribute to the host cytotoxic response to helminths. H2O2 formed by nearby inflammatory cells may induce mast cell secretion, and the released MCG, through their endogenous peroxidase content (or bound eosinophil or neutrophil peroxidase), may react with H2O2 and a halide to form a system toxic to the adjacent helminth.

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