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Discovering the benign traits of the mast cell

Soman N. Abraham
From: Science & Medicine: Volume 4 Number 5: Page 46 (October 1997)

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Abstract: Certain properties of mast cells, particularly their location in the body, their ability to ingest and kill pathogenic bacteria, and their expression of inflammatory mediators, suggest that their primordial function is in immune surveillance and modulation of the immune response. Observations in mutant mice that are deficient in mast cells provide evidence for a specific role of mast cells in the coordinated response to infection. Such a role could explain why mast cells have persisted over evolutionary time, considering that their more prominet traits are mostly deleterious.

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