Image of lung mast cells.Two key compounds produced by mast cells — histamine and renin — are believed to promote fibrogenesis when mast cells are activated early in the course of the disease, according to new research published in DNA and Cell Biology, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert Inc publishers.

Investigators made the discovery when mice unable to produce mast cells did not develop pulmonary fibrosis even when exposed to a chemical trigger known to cause the disease. When the researchers introduced mast cells into the lungs of the same mice, disease protection was reversed and the mice developed pulmonary fibrosis.

“[Research] has shown … that mast cells contribute to the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis,” said editor-in-chief Carol Shoshkes Reiss, PhD, from the department of biology and neural science at New York University. “These observations are important and may lead to the development of new therapeutic modalities to prevent deterioration of lung function.”