Authors: Hanes, Mark R.; Giacomantonio, Carman A.; Marshall, Jean S.
Issue: Cells. 2021 Apr 23;10(5):986.
Mast cells are important sentinel cells in host defense against infection and major effector cells in allergic disease. The role of these cells in cancer settings has been widely debated. The diverse range of mast cell functions in both immunity and tissue remodeling events, such as angiogenesis, provides multiple opportunities for mast cells to modify the tumor microenvironment. In this review, we consider both skin and breast cancer settings to address the controversy surrounding the importance of mast cells in the host response to tumors. We specifically address the key mediators produced by mast cells which impact tumor development. The role of environmental challenges in modifying mast cell responses and opportunities to modify mast cell responses to enhance anti-tumor immunity are also considered. While the mast cell’s role in many cancer contexts is complicated and poorly understood, the activities of these tissue resident and radioresistant cells can provide important opportunities to enhance anti-cancer responses and limit cancer development.