Background: Mercury is known to be neurotoxic, but its effects on the
immune system are less well known. Mast cells are involved in allergic reactions, but
also in innate and acquired immunity, as well as in inflammation. Many patients with
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have "allergic" symptoms; moreover, the prevalence of
ASD in patien... read morets with mastocytosis, characterized by numerous hyperactive mast cells
in most tissues, is 10-fold higher than the general population suggesting mast cell
involvement. We, therefore, investigated the effect of mercuric chloride (HgCl2) on
human mast cell activation.