What are mast cell membranes made out of?

What would weaken or strengthen them?

Web searches bring up a lot of information about mast cells but very little on the membrane. And the Wikipedia page is not clear as to whether or not additional calcium or sodium fluoride would improve/weaken mast cell wall strength.

  • $\begingroup$ Why do you want to change the cell membrane? $\endgroup$ – Chris Apr 5 '14 at 18:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm trying to understand potential causes of Dermatographic Urticaria. $\endgroup$ – Brannon Apr 5 '14 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ Why this happens is unknown (at least after a short look into the literature), but it seems, that anything, that causes stress to the skin can cause this symptome. $\endgroup$ – Chris Apr 5 '14 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ Add more information on the context of the question to get a better answer $\endgroup$ – AndroidPenguin Apr 6 '14 at 0:34

Cell membranes (not cell walls) are composed of a double layer of phospholipids. The lipids are orientated in the way, that the hydrophilic part of the molecule is oriented to the outside and the inside of the cell and the hydrophobic tail to the inside of the membrane. See the figure from the Wikipedia:

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Embedded in the bilayer are transport proteins, receptor and so on. Calcium and sodium fluoride have no effect on the integrity of the membrane.

  • $\begingroup$ So mast cells are the same as all cells in regards to membrane and wall? $\endgroup$ – Brannon Apr 6 '14 at 4:54
  • $\begingroup$ @brannon there are no cell walls in animal cells. They r found in plants and fungi. See d wikipedia page on call walls. $\endgroup$ – biogirl Apr 6 '14 at 8:34
  • $\begingroup$ Eukariotic cells only have membranes made of phospholipids. Their protein content and also the flexibility varies between the different cell types. But in general, the overall composition is the same. $\endgroup$ – Chris Apr 6 '14 at 8:39

Although the Wikipedia page on dermatographism refers to "weak membranes" it cites no source for this, and like Chris, I haven't found any mention of this in a quick look at the literature.

Histamine is usually released from mast cells in response to specific stimuli by a degranulation reaction (internal vesicles fusing with the surface membrane to release their contents) and I would guess that abnormal degranulation is a more likely cause than cell lysis.

In a recent paper (Ralph, JW (2013) Evidence for a role of neural pathways in dermographism. Brit. J. Dermatology 169, 1357–1374) a case is reported of a man who combines dermatographism with a syndrome called "stocking-glove neuropathy". This latter syndrome results in a pattern of loss of sensation in the lower arm. When the dermatographic reaction is triggered in this patient the resulting weal does not extend into the affected part of the arm, suggesting that neural activity is part of the trigger for dermatographism. In other words, in those suffering from dermatographism, sensory nerve activation would somehow result in cross-talk into the pathway for stimulating mast cell degranulation.


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