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Mast Cells and Pathogenesis

Mast cells are found in most tissues including the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, pancreas, synovium, brain and spinal cord as well as the secondary lymphoid organs. Best studied in the context of allergic disease, mast cells are potent producers of many pro-inflammatory, as well as anti-inflammatory molecules. We have discovered a population of mast cells in the meninges that are critical for the disease-induced breach of the BBB and subsequent inflammatory cell infiltration into the CNS.  Our current studies are focused on understanding how these cells are activated in disease and how they regulate immune cell influx into the CNS.