Activation of Eosinophils and Mast Cells in Functional Dyspepsia: an Ultrastructural Evaluation

Hanne Vanheel, Maria Vicario*, Werend Boesmans, Tim Vanuytsel, Eloisa Salvo-Romero, Jan Tack, Ricard Farre*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We recently identified mucosal mast cell and eosinophil hyperplasia in association with a duodenal impaired barrier function in functional dyspepsia (FD). We aimed to further describe the implication of these immune cells by assessing their activation state at the ultrastructural level and by evaluating the association between impaired epithelial integrity and immune activation. Duodenal biopsies were obtained from 24 FD patients and 37 healthy controls. The ultrastructure of mast cells and eosinophils was analyzed by transmission electron microscopy. Transepithelial electrical resistance and paracellular permeability were measured to evaluate epithelial barrier function. The type of degranulation in eosinophils and mast cells was piecemeal. Eosinophils displayed higher degree of degranulation in FD patients than in controls (p < 0.0001). Quantification revealed a decreased granular density in eosinophils of FD patients (p < 0.0001). The degree of degranulation in mast cells was similar in both groups. However, a more heterogeneous profile was found in the FD group (p < 0.0001). No association between epithelial integrity and the number and activation state of mucosal eosinophils and mast cells was found. We demonstrated ultrastructural changes in degranulation state of eosinophils and mast cells, suggesting that eosinophil and mast cell activation play a role in the pathophysiology of FD.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5383
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2018




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