Inflammatory properties of human C5a and C5a des Arg/ in mast cell-depleted human skin

Robert A. Swerlick, Kim B. Yancey, Thomas J. Lawley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


C5a and its degradation product, C5a des Arg, elicit immediate cutaneous inflammatory reactions after intradermal injection. Histologically, these reactions are characterized by neutrophil-rich leukocytic infiltrates, leukocytoclasis, edema, and dermal mast cell degranulation. It has not been possible to assess in vivo the relative contributions of resident mast cells and circulating leukocytes to this reaction because the accumulation of leukocytes and degranulation of mast cells occur simultaneously after injection of these anaphylatoxins. To assess the role of mast cells in these inflammatory reactions, we have examined the reactivity of human skin selectively depleted of dermal mast cells by local corticosteroid treatment. Corticosteroid-treated skin became virtually devoid of dermal mast cells within 4-6 wk as assessed by light microscopy, immunofluorescence with fluorescein conjugated avidin, or electron microscopy. Mast cell-depleted skin demonstrated normal vasopermeability and vasodilatory responsiveness to intradermal injection of histamine, but the reactivity of these sites to the mast cell secretagogue, morphine, was absent. Moreover, no clinical reactions were detectable in mast cell-depleted human skin after intradermal challenge with 50 ng of either C5a or C5a des Arg, despite the fact that biopsies of these sites revealed substantial, neutrophil-rich infiltrates. These infiltrates were qualitatively and quantitatively identical to C5a or C5a des Arg-induced infiltrates in mast cell replete skin. This experimental approach in vivo has allowed the independent analysis of the anaphylactogenic and chemoattractant activities of human C5a and C5a des Arg in human skin, demonstrated the importance of dermal mast cells in these clinical responses, and shown that leukocytes can accumulate at these infection sites directly in response to these mediators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-422
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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