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

Stem cell factor contributes to intestinal mucosal mast cell hyperplasia in rats infected with Nippostrongylus brasiliensis or Trichinella spiralis, but anti-stem cell factor treatment decreases parasite egg production during N brasiliensis infection

  1. GF Newlands,
  2. HR Miller,
  3. A MacKellar, and
  4. SJ Galli
  1. Moredun Research Institute, Edinburgh, UK.


We assessed the effects of the c-kit ligand, stem cell factor (SCF), in the jejunal mucosal mast cell hyperplasia that occurs during infection with the intestinal nematodes, Nippostrongylus brasiliensis or Trichinella spiralis in rats. Compared with vehicle-treated rats, rats treated with SCF (25 micrograms/kg/d, intravenous [i.v.] for 14 days) during N brasiliensis infection exhibited significantly higher levels of the rat mucosal mast cell (MMC)-associated protease, rat mast cell protease II (RMCP II) in the jejunum and serum on day 8 of infection, but not on days 10 or 15 of infection. By contrast, in comparison to rats treated with normal sheep IgG, rats treated with a polyclonal sheep antirat SCF antibody exhibited markedly decreased numbers of jejunal MMCs, levels of jejunal RMCP II, and serum concentrations of RMCP II during infection with either nematode, particularly at the earlier intervals of infection (< or = day 10). Taken together, these findings indicate that SCF importantly contributes to MMC hyperplasia and/or survival during N brasiliensis or T spiralis infection in rats, but that levels of endogenous SCF are adequate to sustain near maximal MMC hyperplasia during infection with these nematodes. Notably, treatment of rats with SCF somewhat increased, and treatment with anti- SCF significantly decreased, parasite egg production during N brasiliensis infection. This finding raises the interesting possibility that certain activities of intestinal MMCs may contribute to parasite fecundity during infection with this nematode.