The role of the tissue mast cells in relation to the acute inflammatory reaction to experimental cutaneous mucormycosis was studied histologically in normal rats, in animals whose tissue mast cells had been depleted of their cytoplasmic granules prior to infection by the administration of compound 48/80 and in others in whom acute alloxan diabetes with acidosis had been produced before injection of the fungus.

The discharge of the tissue mast cell granules in normal rats occurred within minutes at the site of infection and appeared to initiate the rapid onset of acute inflammation. The degranulation of the tissue mast cells subsided in a short time and the cells reassumed a normal histologic appearance while inflammation progressed with the formation of circumscribed lesions. In animals pretreated with compound 48/80 in which the tissue mast cells contained no granules, the onset of inflammation was briefly delayed, the intensity of the process was somewhat decreased, fibroblastic proliferation was retarded, and the fungus growth in the early lesions was increased. However, the infection did not spread and the lesions were well localized. The tissue mast cells in the diabetic and acidotic rats completely failed to discharge their cytoplasmic granules, the onset and intensity of the acute inflammatory response were markedly delayed and decreased and the infection progressed rapidly with massive fungus growth invading adjacent tissues. A relationship between the discharged tissue mast cell granules and eosinophilic granulocytes was noted since the latter were numerous among the inflammatory cell exudate in normal rats and scarce in the lesions of the diabetic animals.

It is concluded that a function of the tissue mast cells in the normal rat is the rapid initiation of acute inflammation at the site of injury and that degranulation of these cells prior to infection somewhat delays the inflammatory response and therefore slightly diminishes host resistance. Furthermore, a severe metabolic disorder such as acute alloxan diabetes with acidosis, inhibits the normal function of the tissue mast cells, delays and decreases inflammation, and in this manner contributes to the greatly increased susceptibility of the host to infection.

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