Original Paper

Inflammation Research

, Volume 53, Issue 5, pp 181-188

First online:

Histamine dilutions modulate basophil activation

  • P. BelonAffiliated withBoiron
  • , J. CumpsAffiliated withUCL 7369
  • , M. EnnisAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Biochemistry, Institute of Clinical Science, The Queen’s University of Belfast Email author 
  • , P. F. MannaioniAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmacology
  • , M. RoberfroidAffiliated withLaboratoire de biotoxicologie
  • , J. Sainte-LaudyAffiliated withLaboratoire d’Immunologie et d’Allergologie
  • , F. A. C. WiegantAffiliated withDepartment of Molecular Cell Biology, University of Utrecht

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Background:In order to demonstrate that high dilutions of histamine are able to inhibit basophil activation in a reproducible fashion, several techniques were used in different research laboratories.

Objective:The aim of the study was to investigate the action of histamine dilutions on basophil activation.

Methods:Basophil activation was assessed by alcian blue staining, measurement of histamine release and CD63 expression. Study 1 used a blinded multi-centre approach in 4 centres. Study 2, related to the confirmation of the multi-centre study by flow cytometry, was performed independently in 3 laboratories. Study 3 examined the histamine release (one laboratory) and the activity of H2 receptor antagonists and structural analogues (two laboratories).

Results:High dilutions of histamine (10–30–10–38 M) influence the activation of human basophils measured by alcian blue staining. The degree of inhibition depends on the initial level of anti-IgE induced stimulation, with the greatest inhibitory effects seen at lower levels of stimulation. This multicentre study was confirmed in the three laboratories by using flow cytometry and in one laboratory by histamine release. Inhibition of CD63 expression by histamine high dilutions was reversed by cimetidine (effect observed in two laboratories) and not by ranitidine (one laboratory). Histidine tested in parallel with histamine showed no activity on this model.

Conclusions:In 3 different types of experiment, it has been shown that high dilutions of histamine may indeed exert an effect on basophil activity. This activity observed by staining basophils with alcian blue was confirmed by flow cytometry. Inhibition by histamine was reversed by anti-H2 and was not observed with histidine these results being in favour of the specificity of this effect We are however unable to explain our findings and are reporting them to encourage others to investigate this phenomenon.

Basophils histamine high dilutions cimetidine ranitidine histidine