Mast cells, stress and prostatitis: brief overview
Mast cells are players in chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) and bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis (BPS/IC). They degranulate and promote inflammation both under stress-invoked neurological and food-related allergic stimuli. IC researcher TC Theoharides has shown that mast cells are not only involved in allergic reactions, but also that they are necessary to initiate inflammation, thus participating in inflammatory diseases that worsen by stress, such as CP/CPPS, autism, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, interstitial cystitis, migraine headaches, psoriasis and multiple sclerosis.
Stress Increases Number of Mast Cells in Bladder
In murine (rat) studies, researchers found that stress exposure led to pathological bladder changes, including an increased number of mast cells, degenerated urothelium and dilated tight junctions, in the bladder. They also found that mast cells are involved in neurogenic cystitis induced by changes in CNS activity.
This suggests that the brain can cause inflammation in organs like the bladder by stimulating mast cells via the nervous system. Mast cells interact with innervating nerve fibres. If your pelvic muscles are tense because your brain is subconsciously telling them to tense up, then the ends of the nerves that are maintaining the high pelvic muscle tonus are “buzzing” with electrical impulses, to put it simply, and they communicate with nearby mast cells in the bladder, prostate, urethra, testicles etc.
This is a very complex area of medicine beyond the scope of this website, but the bottom line for patients is the concept that stress can activate mast cells in different parts of the body. Once activated, they degranulate, releasing numerous chemicals that promote inflammation, like histamine and several cytokines. Two ways to combat this are
- quercetin and flower pollen extract, which protect mast cells and inhibit degranulation, and
- unwinding the brain-sourced stress and muscular tension.