Desferal (desferrioxamine)-A novel activator of connective tissue-type mast cells

Meir Shalit, Alberto Tedeschi, Antonio Miadonna, Franceses Levi-Schaffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of Desferal (desferrioxamine), an iron-chelating agent with allergic side effects, was examined on human basophils and rodent mast cells (MCs) in vitro and in the human skin. Even at a high concentration (100 mg/ml), the drug neither induced histamine release (HR) from human basophils nor primed these cells to release higher amounts of histamine when they were activated with f-met-peptide or anti-lgE antibodies. In contrast, in all seven subjects studied, intradermal injection of Desferal (0.1 mg/ml to 100 mg/ml) elicited classic wheal-and-flare responses, Ingestion of 10 mg of cetirizine, an H1 antagonist, 3 hours before the intracutaneous administration of Desferal, significantly reduced the diameters of both wheal-and-flare reactions, indicating that the drug caused local HR. Desferal also induced HR from rat peritoneal MCs in vitro but had no effect on mouse bone marrow-derived MCs. These results suggest that Desferal has a direct, IgE-independent, stimulatory effect on connective tissue-type MCs. Thus, it may be used as a positive control in skin testing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)854-860
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1991


  • Desferal
  • histamine release
  • mast cell
  • skin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy

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