2006 Volume 102 Issue 1 Pages 1-5
Accumulating evidence has so far indicated that cross-talk between the nervous and immune systems plays a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of various diseases. As a prototypic demonstration of neuro-immune systems, the interaction between nerves and mast cells has been examined intensively. Anatomically, mast cells are often located in close proximity to nerves. Functionally, both cells communicate with each other in a bi-directional manner. Substance P released from nerves and proteases and cytokines from mast cells have proved to be important mediators in such communication. On the other hand, the molecules involved in membrane-membrane contacts between nerves and mast cells were largely unknown. In 2003, both cells were found to express the identical adhesion molecule, named SynCAM (synaptic cell adhesion molecule) or SgIGSF (spermatogenic immunoglobulin superfamily). Since SgIGSF/SynCAM binds homophilically, its involvement in nerve-mast cell interaction was examined in vitro. Superior cervical ganglia expressed SgIGSF/SynCAM along their neurites. Adhesion to these neurites of mast cells lacking SgIGSF/SynCAM was poor, and this was normalized by ectopic expression of SgIGSF/SynCAM. Moreover, SgIGSF/SynCAM-expressing mast cells were more competent in communicating with the neurites. Further understanding of the adhesion molecule-dependent interaction will be expected to open a new avenue in the field of neuro-immune cross-talk.