Background: Mast cells' association with fibrosis is known, but the mechanics of that association are unclear. The hypothesis is that mast cells promote fibroblast profibrotic activities through heterocellular gap junctional intercellular communications. Casting populated collagen lattices with both human mastocytoma cell line (HMC-1), an established mast cell line, and fibroblasts enhances lattice contraction via gap junctional intercellular communications. Unfortunately, in monolayer culture, HMC-1 cells and fibroblasts do not form heterocellular gap junctional intercellular communications. Freshly isolated rat peritoneal mast cells, however, establish these communications with fibroblasts in monolayer culture. Isolated rat peritoneal mast cells, however, survive only 7 days. Establishing a rat mast cell line that grows in the same medium as fibroblasts advances the study of mast cell-fibroblast interactions. HMC-1 cells thrive without supplements, suggesting that they release the factor(s) necessary for their viability. Spent HMC-1 medium may contain the factor(s) that generate a viable rat mast cell line.
Methods: Rat peritoneal-isolated mast cells grew in culture medium containing spent HMC-1 medium for 4 weeks. At 4 weeks, rat mast cells (RMC-1) were successfully maintained in Dulbecco's Modified Eagle Medium with 10% serum.
Results: RMC-1 cells formed heterocellular gap junctional intercellular communications with fibroblasts, enhancing both fibroblast proliferation and co-cultured RMC-1/fibroblast/populated collagen lattice contraction. Enhanced fibroblast proliferation and lattice contraction failed to occur by including RMC-1 cells unable to establish gap junctional intercellular communications with fibroblasts, but cell proliferation was not affected by including degranulated RMC-1 cells.
Conclusion: Heterocellular gap junctional intercellular communications with mast cells increase in fibroblast proliferation and fibroblast PCL contraction, two hypertrophic scar fibroblast activities.