eISSN: 1509-572x
ISSN: 1641-4640
Folia Neuropathologica
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vol. 48

Original article
Association of mast cells with calcification in the human pineal gland

Danuta Maślińska
Milena Laure-Kamionowska
Krzysztof Deręgowski
Sławomir Maśliński

Folia Neuropathol 2010; 48 (4): 276-282
Online publish date: 2010/12/17
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Increased pineal calcifications and decreased pineal melatonin biosynthesis, both age related, support the notion of a pineal bio-organic timing mechanism. The role of calcification in the pathogenesis of pineal gland dysfunction remains unknown but the available data document that calcification is an organized, regulated process, rather than a passive aging phenomenon.

The cellular biology and micro-environmental conditions required for calcification remain poorly understood but most studies have demonstrated evidence that mast cells are strongly implicated in this process. The aim of the present study was to examine the phenotype of mast cells associated with early stages and with the progressive development of calcification in the human pineal gland. The study was performed on pineal samples of 170 fetuses and children whose brains were autopsied and diagnosed during 1998-2002. The representative cerebral and pineal specimens were stained with haematoxylin and eosin or the von Kossa staining technique and for the distribution of mast cell tryptase, mast cell chymase, histamine H4 receptor and vascular network using biotinylated Ulex europaeus agglutinin.

Tryptase mast cells were found in all stages of pineal gland development independently of the presence of local tissue lesions. All of them were always localized in the close vicinity of the blood vessels and expressed immunoreactivity to histamine H4 receptor antibody. Immunolocalization of mast cells by chymase antibody (and following dual immunostaining with both chymase and tryptase antibodies) demonstrated that these cells were few in number and were located in the subcapsular region of the gland. In our study, all functional mast cells that underwent activation and were co-localized with deposits of calcium did not contain chymase. All of them were stained with tryptase and represent the MC-T phenotype. Tryptase mast cells and extracellular tryptase were often associated with areas of early and more advanced stages of calcification. Our results lead to the conclusion that the tryptase mast cells play a major role in the pineal calcification process as sites where this process starts and as a source of production of numerous biologically active substances including tryptase that participate in calcification.

mast cells, tryptase, calcifications, pineal gland

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