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Physiol Behav. 2001 Mar;72(4):567-73.

Can conditioned histamine release occur under urethane anesthesia in guinea pigs?

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Department of Mental Health, Institute of Industrial Ecological Sciences, University of Occupational and Environmental Health, 1-1, Iseigaoka, Yahatanishi-ku, 807-8555, Kitakyushu, Japan.


Many clinical and experimental data have shown that learning can occur under general anesthesia. To clarify this possibility with respect to allergic reactions, particularly asthmatic responses, we first established classical conditioned histamine release in response to a neutral odor by using pairings of the odor and an inhaled antigen for five sessions (Experiment 1) and then investigated whether conditioned histamine release into the plasma, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), and lung tissue, which followed such a conditioning procedure, would be produced in urethane-anesthetized guinea pigs in the presence or absence of antigen (Experiment 2). Ovalbumin (OA) was used as the unconditioned stimulus (US) and dimethylsulfide (DMS) served as the conditioned stimulus (CS) in both experiments. In Experiment 1, the plasma histamine levels in the conditioned group increased significantly more than those of the unpaired control group in response to the CS during consciousness. In Experiment 2 in the absence of antigen, however, no significant differences in the histamine levels were found regarding the groups (DMS, triethylamine, saline, or unsensitized) or the time course (before, immediately, 5 min, and 10 min after the inhalations) during anesthesia, except for the finding that the histamine levels in the lung tissue specimens from the DMS group were significantly higher than those from the triethylamine group. In Experiment 2 in the presence of antigen, there was a significant increase in the plasma histamine levels after exposure to the US, irrespective of the presence of the CS, however, no significant difference in the histamine levels was observed between the US and the CS+US groups. These results indicated that a classically CS might not induce asthmatic responses under anesthesia.

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