Characterization of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome

Lawrence B. Afrin, Sally Self, Jeremiah Menk, John Lazarchick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), a recently recognized nonneoplastic mast cell disease driving chronic multisystem inflammation and allergy, appears prevalent and thus important. We report the first systematic characterization of a large MCAS population. Method Demographics, comorbidities, symptoms, family histories, physical examination and laboratory findings were reviewed in 298 retrospective and 115 prospective patients with MCAS. Blood samples from prospective subjects were examined by flow cytometry for clonal mast cell disease and tested for cytokines potentially driving the monocytosis frequent in MCAS. Results Demographically, white females dominated. Median ages at symptom onset and diagnosis were 9 and 49 years, respectively (range: 0-88 and 16-92, respectively) and median time from symptom onset to diagnosis was 30 years (range: 1-85). Median numbers of comorbidities, symptoms, and family medical issues were 11, 20, and 4, respectively (range: 1-66, 2-84, and 0-33, respectively). Gastroesophageal reflux, fatigue and dermatographism were the most common comorbidity, symptom and examination finding. Abnormalities in routine laboratories were common and diverse but typically modest. The most useful diagnostic markers were heparin, prostaglandin D2, histamine and chromogranin A. Flow cytometric and cytokine assessments were unhelpful. Conclusions Our study highlights MCAS׳s morbidity burden and challenging heterogeneity. Recognition is important given good survival and treatment prospects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-215
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of the Medical Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by The Mastocytosis Society, United States and by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, United States, Award number UL1TR000114. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Support: The Mastocytosis Society; University of Minnesota Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Southern Society for Clinical Investigation


  • Chronic inflammatory diseases
  • Mast cell activation disease
  • Mast cell activation syndrome


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