Mastering Venomous Bites and Stings

Science's STKE  01 Aug 2006:
Vol. 2006, Issue 346, pp. tw263
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3462006tw263

Mast cells play multiple roles in protective immunity to infection but also have less desirable roles in autoimmune and allergic conditions. The tissue injury caused by mast-cell activation arises through the release of mediators that perform a range of inflammatory functions, which have been thought to exacerbate the effects of venomous bites or stings. However, Metz et al. manipulated a genetic mast-cell deficiency in mice to show that mast cells can protect against certain snake and bee-sting venoms by releasing carboxypeptidase A, which can break down the most dangerous component of several types of venom.

M. Metz, A. M. Piliponsky, C.-C. Chen, V. Lammel, M. Ã…brink, G. Pejler, M. Tsai, S. J. Galli, Mast cells can enhance resistance to snake and honeybee venoms. Science 313, 526-530 (2006). [Abstract] [Full Text]

J. Marx, Mast cells defang snake and bee venom. Science 313, 427 (2006). [Summary] [Full Text]