What is special about blood cells in Mast Cell Activation Syndrome?

  • Research type

    Research Study

  • Full title

    Mast cell degranulation, genetics, cytokine secretion & gene expression in mast cell activation syndrome



  • Contact name

    Matthew Helbert

  • Contact email


  • Sponsor organisation

    Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

  • Research summary

    Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) is a recently defined condition which causes severe allergic symptoms. The symptoms of MCAS range from severe itching and swellings to full-blown allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), which may be life threatening. Patients with MCAS can either develop symptoms spontaneously or after exposure to substances to which they are allergic (for example wasp stings).

    Systemic Mastocytosis is a related condition which causes identical allergic symptoms and leads to similar test results as MCAS. However, Systemic Mastocytosis may behave as a type of maligancy and so must be distinguished from MCAS.

    Mast cells are involved in allergy as well as our defences against cancer and infection. In MCAS, mast cells are either increased in number, over respond to stimulation or both. Little is known about why this happens in MCAS. For example we do not know 1) how it is related to Systemic Mastocytosis 2) what simple, non-invasive tests can be routinely used to diagnose MCAS and distinguish it from Systemic Mastocytosis and 3) which chemicals cause symptoms in MCAS and, thus, how best is it treated.

    Blood samples will be taken from MCAS patient and control subjects. These will be used to grow mast cells. The cells will be stimulated in vitro and chemicals released by the cells will be measured. We will also study which genes are active in the mast cells. We will look for the mutations that are characteristic of Systemic Mastocytosis. These data will be compared from data from controls with conventional allergy who do not have MCAS. These experiments will help identify a unique MCAS signature, which could be used diagnostically, and identify candidate chemicals, which can be blocked therapeutically.

    A pseudonymised database of the MCAS symptoms and routine blood results will be kept.

  • REC name

    North East - Tyne & Wear South Research Ethics Committee

  • REC reference


  • Date of REC Opinion

    5 Aug 2013

  • REC opinion

    Further Information Favourable Opinion