Content » Vol 79, Issue 3

Suction Blister Formation in Skin after Acute and Repeated Mast Cell Degranulation

Renata Kaminska, Anita Naukkarinen, Maija Horsmanheimo, Ilkka T. Harvima
DOI: 10.1080/000155599750010940


Mast cells and their proteases are thought to participate in the development of skin blisters in various pathological conditions. In this study, suction blistering was used as an experimental model to evaluate the significance of mast cells in blister formation after pre-treatment of normal skin with intradermal injections of 100 μg/ml compound 48/80 (a mast cell degranulator) or with 0.1% capsaicin cream. Tryptic and chymotryptic enzyme activities in blister fluids were measured with sensitive p-nitroanilide substrates. Repeated injections of compound 48/80 once a day on 3 or 5 consecutive days or capsaicin applications 3 times a day for 7 or 10 days were used to induce mast cell degranulation and inflammation in normal skin. Both treatments ultimately led to decreased wheal and erythema reactions before suction blistering, but neither treatment affected the size or formation rate of suction blisters. No suction blister fluids had detectable levels of chymotryptic activity, but blister fluids from bullous pemphigoid, herpes zoster and insect bullous eruption, used as the control, revealed clear chymotryptic activity. In addition, tryptic activity in suction blister fluids was not significantly altered after compound 48/80 and capsaicin pre-treatments. However, if the wheal reaction was induced immediately before suction blistering, a significantly increased rate in blister formation together with increased tryptic activity was found, but, unexpectedly, no chymotryptic activity could be detected in blister fluids. The results show that repeated mast cell degranulation in normal skin has no effect on the formation rate of suction blisters, which developed more rapidly on acutely whealing skin. This is probably due to skin oedema rather than mast cell proteases, since no chymotryptic activity was detected in suction blisters where tryptic activity exhibited high individual variation.


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