Mouse bone marrow-derived mast cells (BMMC), cultured for 2, 7, or 14 days in WEHI-3 conditioned medium in the absence or presence of mouse 3T3 fibroblasts, were examined morphologically and for their functional responses to IgE-Fc-mediated and calcium ionophore-mediated activation. The 7- and 14-day fibroblast-adherent and non-fibroblast-adherent populations of cocultured BMMC had more granules per cell and the granule contents were more electron dense than non-cocultured BMMC or BMMC cocultured for only 2 days. The adherent cocultured BMMC were usually located within multiple layers of fibroblasts, but did not form junctions with the fibroblasts. When activated immunologically, the adherent cocultured mast cells generally discharged their granules singly, but compound exocytosis was occasionally seen. Both the non-adherent cocultured BMMC and the BMMC that were cultured in the absence of fibroblasts were similar to one another in that they exocytosed 9 to 11% of their histamine when sensitized with anti-dinitrophenyl IgE and challenged with dinitrophenyl-bovine serum albumin and 27 to 29% of their histamine when challenged with calcium ionophore. In contrast, adherent cocultured BMMC exocytosed 27 and 61% of their histamine upon immunologic and calcium ionophore activation, respectively, representing a significant two- to three-fold increase relative to that obtained from the other populations of BMMC. When activated immunologically, BMMC cultured in WEHI-3 conditioned medium alone generated a mean of 12 ng of immunoreactive C-6-sulfidopeptide leukotrienes, 1.6 ng of leukotriene B4 (LTB4), and 1.0 ng of prostaglandin D2 (PGD2)/10(6) cells. The immunologic response of the nonadherent 7-day cocultured BMMC was similar. Fibroblast-adherent cocultured BMMC, on the other hand, generated 56 ng of immunoreactive C-6-sulfidopeptide leukotrienes, 6.4 ng of LTB4, and 5.6 ng of PGD2/10(6) mast cells, representing a significant increase for each product. When calcium ionophore was used as the agonist, the adherent cocultured mast cells also generated significantly more arachidonic acid metabolites than nonadherent cocultured BMMC or BMMC cultured in the absence of fibroblasts. Retention times on high performance liquid chromatography confirmed that the generated immunoreactive products were LTB4, PGD2, and LTC4. Thus, coculture of BMMC with fibroblasts induces an alteration in the composition of the secretory granules of the mast cells, as well as an augmentation of the activation-secretion response of the BMMC.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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