Study finds link between stress hormone and increased expression of allergy-causing mast cells

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Increased allergic reactions may be tied to the corticotropin-releasing stress hormone (CRH), according to new research published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences

The researchers hypothesized that due to its role in inducing mast cell degranulation in human skin, CRH may also be involved in stress-aggravated nasal allergies. When they added CRH to a nasal polyp organ culture, they saw a significant increase in the number of mast cells, a stimulation both of mast cell degranulation and proliferation, and an increase of stem cell factor (SCF) expression, a growth factor of mast cells, in human nasal mucosa, the skin of the nasal cavity.

In exploring possible therapeutic angles, the researchers said they saw the effect of CRH on mast cells blocked by CRHR1 gene knockdown, CRHR1 inhibitors, or an addition of SCF neutralizing antibodies.

In vivo, the team found an increase in the number of mast cells and degranulation in the nasal mucosa of mouse models of restraint stress, which was inhibited by the administration of CRHR1 inhibitor, antalarmin.

“In addition to understanding the effects stress has on our allergies, we have also found promising therapeutic potential in candidates like antalarmin," said Mika Yamanaka-Takaichi, leas researcher and a graduate student of the Department of Dermatology at Osaka City University. "And this is wonderful news for my patients.”