Cancer Institute A national cancer institute
designated cancer center

Role of Mast Cells in Tumor Biology

Stephen Galli's group attempts to understand how the development of mast cells is regulated, how these cells express their function, and what specific roles these cells play in health and disease.  A special focus has been the development of genetic and cell-transfer models that can provide definitive information about the roles of mast cells in complex biological responses, such as asthma, tissue remodeling, carcinogenesis and tumor biology.

Highlights of this work include:

Mast Cells and Gene Expression Patterns

One of Dr. Galli's current projects is to use genetic and gene-microarray-based approaches to define how mast cell activation, and subsequent production of mediators, cytokines and growth factors, drives "mast cell-associated" patterns of gene expression during biological responses associated with tissue remodeling (including angiogenesis, fibrosis and epithelial hyperplasia).

Mast Cells and Tumorigenesis

Another is to define why, in some models of tumorigenesis, mast cells contribute to this process. For example, the group has just discovered a model of carcinogen-induced intestinal adenoma formation in mice that appears to be largely mast cell-dependent, although the mechanisms by which mast cells influence this process remain to be defined.

However, in other settings, mast cells appear to contribute significantly to host resistance to the development or progression of tumors. Because few groups are investigating the roles of mast cells in tumorigenesis, tumor progression or host resistance to tumors, this avenue of investigation may well yield both new insights into the regulation of these process as well as new therapeutic targets for modulating the host response to tumors.

 

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