Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 02.04.2024

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Ubiquitously occurring biogenic amine, which as a tissue hormone plays a role in many physiological and pathophysiological processes in the human body.

General information
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Histamine is an important mediator in inflammatory reactions (see below allergy; see below tryptase). The synthesis begins in the organism with decarboxylation from the amino acid histidine. Subsequent catalysis of the conversion by the enzyme histidine decarboxylase, subsequent metabolization by N-methyltransferase to N-methylhistamine or conversion to imidazole acetic acid by diaminooxidase (DAO).

Storage in mast cells, basophilic granulocytes and nerve cells.

Important regulatory function in the gastrointestinal tract (gastric acid production, gastrointestinal motility) and in the central nervous system (sleep-wake rhythm, appetite control).

Occurs in the human body in the skin, lungs and intestines, among other places.

Increased concentration in foods such as strawberries, cheese, tuna, tomatoes, yeast, chocolate, red wine and sauerkraut (see also histamine intolerance).

Increased histamine release in the organism due to additives, e.g. tartrazine (colorant in gummy bears) or tyramine (in cheese, yeast, chocolate) is possible!

Increased histamine release during stress.

Clinical picture
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After its release from basophilic leukocytes, histamine exerts the known pro-inflammatory effects on the vessels(Lewis Trias):

  • Increase of capillary permeability at the endothelium (plasma exudation, wheal formation)
  • Increase in blood flow due to vasodilation (redness; is attributed to the so-called axon reflex)
  • Axon reflex on superficial nerves (reflex erythema)

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Rapid metabolism in the blood to methylhistamine (half-life is only a few minutes), therefore a determination of methylhistamine in urine is diagnostically more suitable than detection in blood.

Notice! Before taking blood or urine samples, avoid foods with high histamine content.

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  1. Jansen SC et al (2003) Intolerance to dietary biogenic amines: a review. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 91: 233-240
  2. Renz H et al (2009) In vitro allergy diagnostics. Guideline of the German Society for Allergology and Clinical Immunology (DGAKI). Allergo J 19: 110-128


Last updated on: 02.04.2024