“We’ve changed our living environment…If it was cold you put on a sweater; you didn’t turn up the heat to 72º. The foods that we eat are no longer locally raised. So…this mast cell that’s used to a certain type of micro-environment is just completely confused and now completely over-active.” — Anne Maitland, MD, Ph.D., Allergy & Immunology (via MastCellAware.com)

Ever wonder how and why ‎mast cell dysfunction seems to be so prevalent and overlapping with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS)? Mast Cells, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and GI Disorders appear to all go hand-in-hand as well. This image below should be able to provide a realistic picture of how and maybe even why these two conditions overlap — at least to some degree. This graphic of adipose connective tissue, which is the most abundant type of connective in our bodies. Adipose tissue is mostly under our skin “(subcutaneous fat), around internal organs (visceral fat), in bone marrow (yellow bone marrow), intermuscular (Muscular system) and in the breast tissue. Adipose tissue is found in specific locations, which are referred to as adipose depots.” (source – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adipose_tissue)img_2450Did you catch the bone marrow part?

That’s where mast cells are made before they travel the peripheral blood on their way to the connective tissue site where they stay, mature and live out their life cycle. Mast cells do not routinely move in our blood like our red blood cells or other white blood cells. Mast cells are made our bone marrow, but are a primary component of our connective tissues, just like collagen. The are also a type of white blood cell and are the “sentinels” or guards for our entire immune system.

Additionally,  adipose connective tissue “fills up space between organs and tissues and provides structural and metabolic support. It’s often referred to as fat, but while fat is the main component, it is not the only element found in the tissue. White adipose is the typical fat cell called an adipocyte.” 

Another interesting point to note is that those with Vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (VEDS), type 3 collagen (COL3A1) is the type of collagen affected and is caused by any one of 500+ different mutations COL3A1 gene. Type 3 collagen is found mostly in our skin, lungs, intestinal walls and walls of the blood vessels. Seems like a lot of possible overlap with mast cell dysfunction, especially when you consider how close to each other all components of our connective tissues are.

Only research will be able to help us fully understand how the various mutations to one of the elements of our connective tissues affect the structure and function of other components, and together, how each affects the function of our connective tissues as a whole (if at all). Or, how mutations in extracellular components which aid in the structure and function of our connective tissues affect their integrity and stability as well. However, one thing is for sure – mast cells, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and GI Disorders all share a common component or “glue” – our connective tissues.

Additional Resources on EDS, Mast Cells, and GI Disorders: 

‘What is Ehlers-Danlos syndrome?’ http://edswellness.org/index.php/2016/05/04/what-is-ehlers-danlos-syndrome-eds/

‘What is Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)?’http://mastcellresearch.com/what-is-mast-cell-activation-syndrome-mcas/

Articles and Posts on mast cell dysfunction, GI Disorders, and Hypermobility/EDS: 

GI Disease, Cancer & Mast Cellshttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3431027/

‘Mast cells are associated with the onset and progression of celiac disease’ (2016) – http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(16)30948-4/abstract

– Mast Cells in GI Dysfunctionhttp://www.hindawi.com/journals/grp/2012/950582/

– Dr. Collins’ presentations ‘If you can’t connect the issues and think connective tissues’ – https://youtu.be/H0jaF6Rnuv4

– Dr. Heidi Collins’ Presentation at EDNF physicians conference ‘Gastrointestinal Complications with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome’ http://ehlers-danlos.com/2014-physicians-conference/Collins.pdf

Dr. Collins’ nutrition guideline for EDShttp://issuu.com/markmartino8/docs/eds_nutrition_and_supplements_heidi

– Dr. Alan Pocinki – ‘Breaking the cycle of poor sleep, chronic pain & fatigue’https://youtu.be/9TxKDVkaDFM

Dr. Afrin on Mast Cell issues (webinar with EDS Awareness) – https://youtu.be/82dmZhCBuBo

Dr. Maitland on Mast Cell issues – https://youtu.be/ktFdr-9rpIM

– ‘Top 10 Nutrition Tips and Resources for Optimal Health with EDS’http://strengthflexibilityhealtheds.com/2015/08/04/top-10-nutrition-tips-and-resources-for-optimal-health-with-eds/

– Gastrointestinal Conditions and EDShttp://strengthflexibilityhealtheds.com/comorbid-conditions-to-eds/gastrointestinal-conditions-and-eds/

Post on prevalence of GI Issues in patients with hypermobility/EDS
Post on why being double-jointed can be a pain in the gut – literally

Diagnosing MCAS (series of 4 posts) – Diagnosing Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS); Post 1 of 4 in series

Diagnosing MCAS – Update and Diagnosis Confirmation – Diagnosing Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS); Update and diagnosis confirmation

Healing Histamine by Yasmina

Books:

‘Finding Balance: Empower Yourself with Tools to Combat Stress and Illness’ – http://amzn.to/2e3YzQM

‘It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways’ – http://amzn.to/2dTPCq2

‘Never Bet Against Occam: Mast Cell Activation Disease and the Moder Epidemics of Chronic Illness and Medical Complexity’ http://amzn.to/2dubHxh

‘The Patient’s Playbook’ – http://amzn.to/2dz7CGF