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J Immunol. 2000 Jun 15;164(12):6640-6.

Histamine is a potent inducer of IL-18 and IFN-gamma in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

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Department of Surgery, Pharmacology, and Pathology, Okayama University Medical School, Japan.


Histamine (10-7 to 10-4 M) concentration-dependently stimulated the production of IL-18 and IFN-gamma and inhibited the production of IL-2 and IL-10 in human PBMCs. Histamine in the same concentration range did not induce the production of IL-12 at all. The stimulatory or inhibitory effects of histamine on cytokine production were all antagonized by H2 receptor antagonists ranitidine and famotidine in a concentration-dependent manner, but not by H1 and H3 receptor antagonists. Selective H2 receptor agonists, 4-methylhistamine and dimaprit, mimicked the effects of histamine on five kinds of cytokine production. The EC50 values of histamine, 4-methylhistamine, and dimaprit for the production of IL-18 were 1.5, 1.0, and 3.8 microM, respectively. These findings indicated that histamine caused cytokine responses through the stimulation of H2 receptors. All effects of histamine on cytokine responses were also abolished by the presence of either anti-IL-18 Ab or IL-1beta-converting enzyme/caspase-1 inhibitor, indicating that the histamine action is dependent on mature IL-18 secretion and that IL-18 production is located upstream of the cytokine cascade activated by histamine. The addition of recombinant human IL-18 to the culture concentration-dependently stimulated IL-12 and IFN-gamma production and inhibited the IL-2 and IL-10 production. IFN-gamma production induced by IL-18 was inhibited by anti-IL-12 Ab, showing the marked contrast of the effect of histamine. Thus histamine is a very important modulator of Th1 cytokine production in PBMCs and is quite unique in triggering IL-18-initiating cytokine cascade without inducing IL-12 production.

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