Mast cells are found in close association with blood vessels, and histamine is known to be a potent vasodilator in humans. It is now clear that mast cells form neuroeffector junctions and that one of the types of nerve involved is the peptide-containing primary afferent neurone (C fibre). Nerve stimulation produces vasodilation which is blocked by antihistamines or by depletion of mast cell histamine with compound 48/80. Nerve stimulation also releases histamine and degranulates mast cells. Substance P and other neuropeptides release histamine from isolated rat and human skin mast cells. The actions of substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide in human skin are compatible with a role for these two peptides in neurogenic inflammation. The inflammatory effects of substance P in human skin are inhibited by antihistamines. The possible role of the mast cell in neurogenic inflammation is discussed.

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