The Provider Primer Series: Management of mast cell mediator symptoms and release

Mast cell disease is largely managed by treatment of symptoms induced by mast cell mediator release or by interfering with mediator release.

The following tables detail treatment recommendations described in literature by mast cell disease key opinion leaders. Please refer to source literature for future details on dosing, duration, and so on. These are not my personal recommendations and any and all treatment decisions must be made by a medical professional familiar with the patient.

Second and third generation H1 antihistamines are preferred to exclude neurologic symptoms accompanying use of first generation H1 antihistamines. However, first generation H1 antihistamines are sometimes used by mast cell patients and in the setting of anaphylaxis.

In advanced and aggressive forms of mast cell disease, use of cytoreductive agents, chemotherapy, and, very rarely, hematopoietic stem cell transplant may be considered.

Table 1: Primary treatment options (consensus) for mast cell mediator symptoms or release described in literature
Class Target Intended actions of target Symptoms associated with target Reference
H1 antihistamines (second or third generation preferred) H1 histamine receptor Promotes GI motility, vasodilatation and production of prostaglandins, leukotrienes and/or thromboxanes (via release of arachidonic acid) and nitric oxide  Hypotension, decreased chronotropy, flushing, angioedema, pruritis, diarrhea, headache, urticaria, pain, swelling and itching of eyes and nose, bronchoconstriction, cough, and airway impingement Valent 2007[i], Picard 2013[ii], Molderings 2016[iii], Hamilton 2011[iv]
H2 antihistamines H2 histamine receptor Release of gastric acid, vasodilation, smooth muscle relaxation, and modulates antibody production and release in various immune cells Increased chronotropy, increased cardiac contractility, hypertensioni, bronchodilation, increased presence of Th2 T cells, increasing IgE production Valent 2007, Picard 2013, Molderings 2016, Hamilton 2011
Mast cell stabilizer (cromolyn) Unknown targets to modulate electrolyte trafficking across the membrane to deter mast cell degranulation 

 

 

 

Unclear. Mast cell mediator release regulates many physiologic functions, including allergy response, immune defense against pathogens, angiogenesis, and tissue remodeling. In theory, all symptoms derived from mast cell mediator release. Research has demonstrated decreased release of mediators including histamine and eicosanoids. Valent 2007, Picard 2013, Molderings 2016, Hamilton 2011

 

Table 2: Primary treatment options (non-consensus) for mast cell mediator symptoms or release described in literature
Class Target Intended actions of target Symptoms associated with target Reference
Leukotriene receptor antagonists Leukotriene receptor Smooth muscle contraction, immune cell infiltration, production of mucus Bronchoconstriction, airway impingement, overproduction of mucus, pruritis, sinus congestion, runny nose Hamilton 2011, Valent 2007
N/A; Vitamin C decreases histamine levels by accelerated degradation and by interfering with production Unknown targets to deter mast cell degranulation  Mast cell mediator release regulates many physiologic functions, including allergy response, immune defense against pathogens, angiogenesis, and tissue remodeling. In theory, all symptoms derived from mast cell mediator release. Research has demonstrated decreased release of mediators including histamine and eicosanoids. Molderings 2016
H1 antihistamine; mast cell stabilizer Histamine H1 receptor and mast cell stabilizer (ketotifen) See above for function of targets for H1 antihistamines and mast cell stabilizer See above for symptoms targets for H1 antihistamines and mast cell stabilizer Molderings 2016

 

Table 3: Secondary options for mast cell mediator symptoms or release described in literature
Symptom Treatment Reference
Abdominal cramping H2 antihistamines, cromolyn, proton pump inhibitors, leukotriene antagonists, ketotifen Picard 2013
Abdominal cramping H1 antihistamines, H2 histamines, oral cromolyn, leukotriene receptor antagonists, short course glucocorticoids Valent 2007
Abdominal pain H1 antihistamines, H2 histamines, oral cromolyn, leukotriene receptor antagonists, short course glucocorticoids Valent 2007
Angioedema H1 antihistamines, H2 antihistamines, leukotriene receptor antagonists, aspirin, ketotifen Picard 2013
Angioedema Medications used for hereditary angioedema, including antifibrinolytic such as tranexamic acid, bradykinin receptor antagonist Molderings 2016
Blistering Local H1 antihistamines, H1 antihistamines, H2 antihistamines, systemic glucocorticoids, topical cromolyn, dressing Valent 2007
Bone pain Analgesics, NSAIDS, opiates and radiation if severe Valent 2007
Bone pain Bisphosphonates, vitamin D, calcium, anti-RANKL therapy Molderings 2016
Colitis Corticosteroids active in GI tract or systemic Molderings 2016
Conjunctival injection H1 antihistamines, topical H1 antihistamines, topical corticosteroids, topical cromolyn Picard 2013
Conjunctivitis Preservative free eye drops with H1 antihistamine, cromolyn, ketotifen or glucocorticoid Molderings 2016
Dermatographism H1 antihistamines, H2 antihistamines, leukotriene receptor antagonists, aspirin, ketotifen Picard 2013
Diarrhea H1 antihistamines, H2 histamines, oral cromolyn, leukotriene receptor antagonists, short course glucocorticoids Valent 2007
Diarrhea H2 antihistamines, cromolyn, proton pump inhibitors, leukotriene antagonists, ketotifen Picard 2013
Diarrhea Bile acid sequestrants, nystatin, leukotriene receptor antagonists, 5-HT3 receptor inhibitors, aspirin Molderings 2016
Flushing H1 antihistamines, leukotriene receptor antagonists, H2 antihistamines, glucocorticoids, topical cromolyn Valent 2007
Flushing H1 antihistamines, H2 antihistamines, leukotriene receptor antagonists, aspirin, ketotifen Picard 2013
Gastric symptoms Proton pump inhibitors Molderings 2016
Headaches H1 antihistamines, H2 histamines, oral cromolyn Valent 2007
Headaches, poor concentration and memory, brain fog H1 antihistamines, H2 antihistamines, cromolyn, ketotifen Picard 2013
Interstitial cystitis Pentosan, amphetamines Molderings 2016
Joint pain COX-2 inhibitors Molderings 2016
Mastocytoma (if symptomatic, growing) Local immunosuppressants, PUVA, removal Valent 2007
Miscellaneous/ overall elevated symptom profile Disease modifying anti-rheumatoid drugs, antineoplastic drugs, kinase inhibitors with appropriate target, anti-IgE, continuous antihistamine infusion Molderings 2016
Nasal pruritis H1 antihistamines, topical H1 antihistamines, topical corticosteroids, topical cromolyn Picard 2013
Nasal stuffiness H1 antihistamines, topical H1 antihistamines, topical corticosteroids, topical cromolyn Picard 2013
Nausea H2 antihistamines, cromolyn, proton pump inhibitors, leukotriene antagonists, ketotifen Picard 2013
Nausea H1 antihistamines, H2 histamines, oral cromolyn, leukotriene receptor antagonists, short course glucocorticoids Valent 2007
Nausea Dimenhydrinate, benzodiazepines, 5-HT3 inhibitors, NK1 antagonists Molderings 2016
Neuropathic pain, paresthesia Alpha lipoic acid Molderings 2016
Non-cardiac chest pain H2 antihistamines, proton pump inhibitors Molderings 2016
Osteopenia, osteoporosis Bisphosphonates, vitamin D, calcium, anti-RANKL therapy Molderings 2016
Peptic ulceration/bleeding H2 antihistamines, proton pump inhibitors, blood products as needed Valent 2007
Pre-syncope/syncope H1 antihistamines, H2 antihistamines, corticosteroids, anti-IgE Picard 2013
Pruritis H1 antihistamines, H2 antihistamines, topical cromolyn, PUVA treatment, leukotriene receptor antagonists, glucocorticoids Valent 2007
Pruritis H1 antihistamines, H2 antihistamines, leukotriene receptor antagonists, aspirin, ketotifen Picard 2013
Pruritis Topical cromolyn, topical palmitoylethanolamine containing preparations Molderings 2016
Recurrent hypotension H1 antihistamines, H2 antihistamines, systemic glucocorticoids, aspirin Valent 2007
Respiratory symptoms Leukotriene receptor antagonists, 5-lipoxygenase inhibitors, short-acting β-sympathomimetic Molderings 2016
Severe osteopenia or osteoporosis Oral bisphosphonates, IV bisphosphonates, interferon alpha Valent 2007
Tachycardia H1 antihistamines, H2 antihistamines, systemic glucocorticoids, aspirin Valent 2007
Tachycardia H1 antihistamines, H2 antihistamines, corticosteroids, anti-IgE Picard 2013
Tachycardia AT1 receptor antagonists, agents that target funny current Molderings 2016
Throat swelling H1 antihistamines, H2 antihistamines, leukotriene antagonists, corticosteroids, anti-IgE Picard 2013
Urticaria H1 antihistamines, H2 antihistamines, leukotriene receptor antagonists, aspirin, ketotifen Picard 2013
Vomiting H1 antihistamines, H2 histamines, oral cromolyn, leukotriene receptor antagonists, short course glucocorticoids Valent 2007
Vomiting H2 antihistamines, cromolyn, proton pump inhibitors, leukotriene antagonists, ketotifen Picard 2013
Wheezing H1 antihistamines, H2 antihistamines, leukotriene antagonists, corticosteroids, anti-IgE Picard 2013

 

[i] Valent P, et al. (2007). Standards and standardization in mastocytosis: Consensus statements on diagnostics, treatment recommendations and response criteria. European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 37(6):435-453.

[ii] Picard M, et al. (2013). Expanding spectrum of mast cell activation disorders: Monoclonal and idiopathic mast cell activation syndromes. Clinical Therapeutics, 35(5):548-562.

[iii] Molderings GJ, et al. (2016). Pharmacological treatment options for mast cell activation disease. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg’s Arch Pharmol, 389:671.

[iv] Hamilton MJ, et al. (2011). Mast cel activation syndrome: a newly recognized disorder with systemic clinical manifestations. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 128(1):147-152.e2