Gut 41:785-792 doi:10.1136/gut.41.6.785
  • Inflammation

Mast cell mediated ion transport in intestine from patients with and without inflammatory bowel disease

  1. S E Crowea,
  2. G K Luthraa,
  3. M H Perdueb
  1. aDepartment of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, USA, bIntestinal Disease Research Programme, Department of Pathology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  1. Dr S E Crowe, Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, 4.106 McCullough Bldg., Route E-64, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, USA.
  • Accepted 24 June 1997


Background—Mast cells have been shown to regulate intestinal ion transport in animal models and normal human colon but their physiological role in human intestinal inflammatory disorders is unknown.

Aims—To examine mast cell regulation of ion transport in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Subjects and methods—Small and large intestine was obtained from patients with and without IBD undergoing surgical resection. Short circuit current (Isc) responses to rabbit antihuman IgE, histamine, and electrical stimulation were measured in Ussing chambers. Specimens were also examined for mast cell numbers and degree of inflammation.

ResultsIsc responses to anti-IgE and histamine were smaller in magnitude in IBD compared with non-IBD tissues. In all tissues, anti-IgE Isc responses were reduced by about 80% in chloride free buffer. The histamine H1 receptor antagonist, pyrilamine, decreased anti-IgE responses in non-IBD tissues. Greater inhibition with pyrilamine was seen in IBD small intestine but its effect was less in IBD colon. Histamine pretreatment of non-IBD control tissues reduced anti-IgE responses to levels seen in IBD colon but had no effect in small intestine. Mast cell numbers were greater in IBD compared with non-IBD small intestine while no differences were observed between the colonic groups. Isc responses to anti-IgE were not correlated with the degree of mucosal inflammation.

Conclusions—This study provides further evidence that mast cells are capable of mediating alterations of ion transport in human gut but that this regulatory role may be altered in IBD. The data suggest that prior activation of mast cells with release of histamine may account for the reduced secretory response to anti-IgE observed in IBD colonic tissues.