Psychological stress and heightened mast cell (MC) activation are linked with important immunologic disorders, including allergy, anaphylaxis, asthma, and functional bowel diseases, but the mechanisms remain poorly defined. We have previously demonstrated that activation of the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) system potentiates MC degranulation responses during IgE-mediated anaphylaxis and psychological stress through corticotropin-releasing factor receptor subtype 1 (CRF1) expressed on MCs. In this study we investigated the role of corticotropin-releasing factor receptor subtype 2 (CRF2) as a modulator of stress-induced MC degranulation and associated disease pathophysiology. In vitro MC degranulation assays were performed with bone marrow-derived mast cells (BMMCs) derived from wild-type (WT) and CRF2-deficient (CRF2-/-) mice and RBL-2H3 MCs transfected with CRF2-overexpressing plasmid or CRF2 small interfering RNA. In vivo MC responses and associated pathophysiology in IgE-mediated passive systemic anaphylaxis and acute psychological restraint stress were measured in WT, CRF2-/-, and MC-deficient KitW-sh/W-sh knock-in mice. Compared with WT mice, CRF2-/- mice exhibited greater serum histamine levels and exacerbated IgE-mediated anaphylaxis and colonic permeability. In addition, CRF2-/- mice exhibited increased serum histamine levels and colonic permeability after acute restraint stress. Experiments with BMMCs and RBL-2H3 MCs demonstrated that CRF2 expressed on MCs suppresses store-operated Ca2+ entry signaling and MC degranulation induced by diverse MC stimuli. Experiments with MC-deficient KitW-sh/W-sh mice systemically engrafted with WT and CRF2-/- BMMCs demonstrated the functional importance of MC CRF2 in modulating stress-induced pathophysiology. MC CRF2 is a negative global modulator of stimuli-induced MC degranulation and limits the severity of IgE-mediated anaphylaxis and stress-related disease pathogenesis.
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