This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Mastocytosis occurs when too many mast cells accumulate in the skin and/or internal organs such as the liver, spleen, bone marrow, and small intestines. Mast cells are a type of white blood cell in the immune system. Mast cells are responsible for protecting the body from infection and releasing chemicals to create inflammatory responses. The signs and symptoms of mastocytosis vary based on which parts of the body are affected. There are two main forms of mastocytosis. Cutaneous mastocytosis only affects the skin and is more common in children. Systemic mastocytosis affects more than one part of the body and is more common in adults.
Mastocytosis is usually caused by changes (known as variations or mutations) in the KIT gene. Most cases are caused by somatic mutations, meaning they only occur in certain parts of the body and are not inherited or passed on to the next generation. However, mastocystosis can rarely affect more than one person in a family. Mastocysotis may be suspected when a doctor sees a person has signs and symptoms of the disease. Diagnosis may be confirmed with a skin biopsy or bone marrow biopsy. Treatment of mastocytosis is based on the signs and symptoms present in each person and can include antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers, corticosteroids, and oral psoralen plus UV-A therapy.
For more information, visit GARD.