Study of Interest: Mast Cell-Neural Interactions Contribute to Pain and Itch

Our team at the Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) Program at UT Health San Antonio wanted to share this important external study:

Mast Cell-Neural Interactions Contribute to Pain and Itch” from researchers at the University of Minnesota and University of Eastern Finland.

Mast cells are best recognized for their role in allergy and anaphylaxis, but increasing evidence supports their role in neurogenic inflammation leading to pain and itch. Mast cells act as a “power house” by releasing algogenic and pruritogenic mediators, which initiate a reciprocal communication with specific nociceptors on sensory nerve fibers…
…Therefore, in this review we present the contribution of mast cells in pathological conditions, including distressing pruritus exacerbated by psychologic stress and experienced by the majority of patients with psoriasis and atopic dermatitis and in different pain syndromes due to mastocytosis, sickle cell disease and cancer.

Mast cell activation syndrome and mediator release (MCAS) is an underlying mechanism for chemical intolerance, according to a paper led by Dr. Claudia Miller, allergist/immunologist, professor emeritus, and leader of the Hoffman TILT Program at UT Health San Antonio.

“Mast cells and neurons exist in dyads and are in constant communication. Anything that up-regulates or down-regulates one, affects the other,” Dr. Miller said.

How chemically sensitive are you?

Answer these three questions from Hoffman TILT’s Brief Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (BREESI):

  1. Do you feel sick when you are exposed to tobacco smoke, certain fragrances, nail polish/remover, engine exhaust, gasoline, air fresheners, pesticides, paint/thinner, fresh tar/asphalt, cleaning supplies, new carpet or furnishings? By sick, we mean: headache, difficulty thinking, difficulty breathing, weakness, dizziness, upset stomach, etc.
  2. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse or allergic reactions to any drugs or medications (such as antibiotics, anesthetics, pain relievers, X-ray contrast dye, vaccines or birth control pills), or to an implant, prosthesis, contraceptive chemical or device, or other medical/surgical/dental material or procedure?
  3. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse reactions to any foods such as dairy products, wheat, corn, eggs, caffeine, alcoholic beverages, or food additives (e.g., MSG, food dye)?

If you answer YES to any of these three questions, take the Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI) and share the results with your doctor!