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The emerging role of mast cell proteases in asthma

Gunnar Pejler

European Respiratory Journal 2019; DOI: 10.1183/13993003.00685-2019


It is now well established that mast cells play a crucial role in asthma. This is supported by multiple lines of evidence, including both clinical studies and studies on mast cell-deficient mice. However, there is still only limited knowledge of the exact effector mechanism(s) by which mast cells influence asthma pathology. Mast cells contain large amounts of secretory granules, which are filled with a variety of bioactive compounds including histamine, cytokines, lysosomal hydrolases, serglycin proteoglycans and a number of mast cell-restricted proteases. When mast cells are activated, response to IgE receptor crosslinking, the contents of their granules are released to the exterior and can cause a massive inflammatory reaction. The mast cell-restricted proteases include tryptases, chymases and carboxypeptidase A3, and these are expressed and stored at remarkably high levels. There is now emerging evidence supporting a prominent role of these enzymes in the pathology of asthma. Interestingly though, the role of the mast cell-restricted proteases is multifaceted, encompassing both protective and detrimental activities. Here, I review the current knowledge of how the mast cell-restricted proteases impact on asthma.


This manuscript has recently been accepted for publication in the European Respiratory Journal. It is published here in its accepted form prior to copyediting and typesetting by our production team. After these production processes are complete and the authors have approved the resulting proofs, the article will move to the latest issue of the ERJ online. Please open or download the PDF to view this article.

Conflict of interest: Dr. Pejler has nothing to disclose.

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