Summary Mast cells (MCs) are widely distributed in human and animal tissues and have been shown to play an important role in angiogenesis in normal and pathological conditions. Few data are available about the relationship between MCs and blood vessels in the normal human thymus, and there are virtually no data about their distribution and significance in thymoma. The aim of this study was to analyse the spatial distribution of MCs and microvessels in the normal foetal and adult thymus and thymoma. Twenty biopsy specimens of human thymus, including foetal and adult normal thymus and thymoma were analysed. Double staining with CD34 and mast cell tryptase was used to count both mast cells and microvessels in the same fields. Computer-assisted image analysis was performed to characterize the spatial distribution of MCs and blood vessels in selected specimens. Results demonstrated that MCs were localized exclusively to the medulla. Their number was significantly higher in thymoma specimens as compared with adult and foetal normal specimens respectively. In contrast the microvessel area was unchanged. The analysis of the spatial distribution and relationship between MCs and microvessels revealed that only in the thymoma specimens was there a significant spatial association between MCs and microvessels. Overall, these data suggest that MCs do not contribute significantly to the development of the vascular network in foetal and adult thymus, whereas in thymoma they show a close relationship to blood vessels. This could be an expression of their involvement not only in endothelial cells but also in tumour cell proliferation.
- Mast cell
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Cell Biology
- Molecular Biology