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Mast cells are tissue-resident immune cells that participate in a variety of allergic and inflammatory conditions. Limited attention has been given to the role of mast cells in periodontal diseases, and the effects of mast cell degranulation on the chronic stages of non-allergic inflammation, particularly in periodontitis, are not known. The present study analyzes the relationship between the mast cell degranulation and human periodontal disease progression. A total of 50 clinical specimens including moderate periodontitis (n = 17), advanced periodontitis (n = 18), and healthy control tissues (n = 15) were used in this study. All specimens were fixed in 10% buffered formalin and stained with hematoxylin and eosin for histopathology, with toluidine blue for identifying mast cells, and by immunohistochemistry for the expressions of mast cell tryptase in periodontal tissues. The total and degranulated mast cell densities (per high-power field) were quantified in the specimens. Compared with healthy controls, there were significantly increased both total and degranulated mast cell densities in human moderate (P <0.01) and advanced (P <0.01) periodontitis groups by toluidine blue staining, and there were significantly higher densities of both total and degranulated tryptase-positive mast cell subpopulation in the moderate periodontitis group (P <0.01) and even significantly higher subpopulation densities in the advanced periodontitis group by immunohistochemical staining, in which both total and degranulated mast cell densities were significantly higher in the advanced periodontitis group than those in the moderate periodontitis group (P <0.01) by both toluidine blue staining and immunohistochemical staining. There was significantly more severe periodontal inflammatory pathology in the advanced periodontitis group than in the moderate periodontitis group (P <0.01). These findings indicate a significant correlation among tryptase-positive mast cell density, the degree of their degranulation, and the human periodontitis severity, and the results of this study further indicate that mast cell degranulation appears to be associated with human periodontal disease.


Shiguang Huang, Fangli Lu, Ying Chen, Bo Huang, Man Liu. Mast cell degranulation in human periodontitis. Journal of periodontology. 2013 Feb;84(2):248-55

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PMID: 22509749

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