Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies and mast cells have been so convincingly linked to the pathophysiology of anaphylaxis and other acute allergic reactions that it can be difficult to think of them in other contexts. However, a large body of evidence now suggests that both IgE and mast cells are also key drivers of the long-term pathophysiological changes and tissue remodeling associated with chronic allergic inflammation in asthma and other settings. Such potential roles include IgE-dependent regulation of mast-cell functions, actions of IgE that are largely independent of mast cells and roles of mast cells that do not directly involve IgE. In this review, we discuss findings supporting the conclusion that IgE and mast cells can have both interdependent and independent roles in the complex immune responses that manifest clinically as asthma and other allergic disorders.
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