Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Induction of differentiation of human mast cells from bone marrow and peripheral blood mononuclear cells by recombinant human stem cell factor/kit-ligand in long-term culture

  1. P Valent,
  2. E Spanblochl,
  3. WR Sperr,
  4. C Sillaber,
  5. KM Zsebo,
  6. H Agis,
  7. H Strobl,
  8. K Geissler,
  9. P Bettelheim, and
  10. K Lechner
  1. Department of Internal Medicine, University of Vienna, Austria.


In the murine system, a number of cytokines (including interleukin-3 [IL-3], IL-4, and stem cell factor [SCF]) promote the growth of mast cells (MCs). However, so far little is known about factors controlling differentiation of human MCs. Recent data suggest that human MCs express receptors (R) for SCF. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether recombinant human (rh) SCF induces differentiation of human MCs from their precursor cells. For this purpose, bone marrow (BM; normal donors, n = 6) and peripheral blood (PB; normal donors, n = 11) mononuclear cells (MNC) were cultured in the presence of rhSCF, rhIL-3, rhIL-4, rhIL-9, recombinant human macrophage colony-stimulating factor (rhM-CSF), or control medium in long-term (8 weeks) suspension cultures. After 4 weeks, up to 5% of the MNC (BM and PB) cultured in the presence of rhSCF, but not in the presence of other cytokines, were found to exhibit the characteristics of MCs. These MCs expressed the YB5.B8-reactive domain of the SCF R as well as IgE R, as determined by combined toluidine blue/immunofluorescence staining. Myeloid antigens, likewise expressed on human basophils (ie, CD11b, CDw65, and Bsp-1), could not be detected on these cells. Furthermore, rhSCF, but not rhIL- 3, rhIL-4, rhIL-9, or rhM-CSF, induced dose- and time-dependent increases in the formation of cellular tryptase (an MC-specific enzyme) (rhSCF [100 ng/mL], 1,308 +/- 679 ng/mL v control medium, 18 +/- 6 ng/mL tryptase on day 35 of PB cell cultures), as well as an increase in cellular histamine. After 6 to 8 weeks, when other mature hematopoietic cells decreased, MCs still could be detected in culture, with up to 40% of all cells being MCs. To test whether rhSCF also activates tissue MCs, we performed histamine release experiments (dispersed tissue; lung, n = 3; uterus, n = 3). SCF was found to enhance (by up to 3.4-fold) the capacity of the MCs to release histamine upon cross-linkage of IgE R with anti-IgE. Together, these observations suggest that rhSCF induces in vitro differentiation of human MCs from their BM and PB precursor cells in long-term culture and upregulates MC releasability.