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2020 Apr 23

Dig Dis Sci

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome: A Primer for the Gastroenterologist.


Weinstock LB, Pace LA, Rezaie A, Afrin LB, Molderings GJ
Dig Dis Sci. 2020 Apr 23.
PMID: 32328892.


Mast cell activation syndrome is thought to be a common, yet under-recognized, chronic multi-system disorder caused by inappropriate mast cell activation. Gastrointestinal symptoms are frequently reported by these patients and are often mistaken by physicians as functional gastrointestinal disorders. This syndrome can be diagnosed by the medical history and measurable biomarkers. Gastroenterologists manage diseases associated with active inflammatory cells including neutrophils, lymphocytes, macrophages, and eosinophils. The mast cell has only recently been recognized as a major player in our specialty. Gastrointestinal disorders from mast cell mediators often present with apparent irritable bowel syndrome, dyspepsia, chronic or cyclical nausea, and heartburn. Individuals with mast cell activation syndrome experience significant delays in diagnosis. The gastrointestinal symptoms are often refractory to symptom-targeted prescription medications. Beyond avoiding triggers, the best therapy is directed at modulating mast cell activation and the effects of the mediators. Many of these therapies are simple over-the-counter medications. In this article, we review mast cell function and dysfunction and the gastrointestinal symptoms, comorbid conditions, diagnosis, and management of mast cell activation syndrome. Gastroenterologists who become aware of this syndrome can dramatically improve the quality of life for their patients who previously have been labeled with a functional gastrointestinal disorder.