Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 29.10.2020

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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 metabolism 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 (stomach acid production, gastrointestinal motility) and in the central nervous system (sleep-wake rhythm, appetite control).
  • Occurrence in the human body, e.g. in the skin, lungs and intestines.
  • Increased concentration in food e.g. strawberries, cheese, tuna, tomatoes, yeast, chocolate, red wine and sauerkraut (see also histamine intolerance).
  • Increased release of histamine in the organism by additives, e.g. tartrazine (colouring agent in jelly babies) or tyramine (in cheese, yeast, chocolate) 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: 29.10.2020