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Biological functions of mast cells include a functional role in innate immunity against parasitic infections.
Here, we demonstrated that mast cells could also play a role in the anti-microbial defenses regulation and might participate
as a parasite reservoir. We observed that Toxoplasma gondii infected massively in vitro mouse bone marrow derived
mast cells (BMMC), a mucosal mast cell (MMC) phenotype, followed by substantial cell lysis. This induced release of -
hexosaminidase, but not of preformed or neosynthesized TNF-. Culturing MMC in the presence of recombinant mouse
stem cell factor (c-kit ligand) led to their maturation into connective tissue-like mast cells (CTMC), which T. gondii was
able to adhere on and to infect more. T. gondii infection did not induce release of -hexosaminidase and serotonin from
BMMC. These results demonstrated that mast cells interact with T. gondii and are massively infected, especially after
their maturation by c-kit ligand.