Distribution of histamine H3-receptor binding in the normal human basal ganglia: comparison with Huntington's and Parkinson's disease cases

Eur J Neurosci. 1999 Feb;11(2):449-56. doi: 10.1046/j.1460-9568.1999.00453.x.


It is now widely recognized that histamine acts as a neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system. Three selective histamine receptors have been described, all of which are present in the basal ganglia. This study is a detailed, quantitative, autoradiographical examination of the densities of histamine H3-receptors in coronal sections of human basal ganglia, using the selective ligand [3H]-(R)-alpha-methylhistamine. [3H]-(R)-alpha-methylhistamine binding was highest within the external and internal segments of the globus pallidus together with the substantia nigra. High levels were also found in the striatum, where density was significantly higher (P < 0.05) at a pre-, as opposed to post-, anterior commissure coronal level. Within the striatum, binding was noticeably higher in both the nucleus accumbens and acetylcholinesterase-deficient striosomes, while being undetectable in the subthalamic nucleus and very low in both the ventroanterior and ventrolateral thalamic nuclei. An intermediate level of binding, often with a laminar distribution, was seen in the insular cortex. [3H]-(R)-alpha-methylhistamine binding was also examined in both Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease. No difference from control receptor density was found in any area examined in Parkinson's disease, while values were significantly lower in caudate (P < 0.001), putamen (P < 0.001), external (P < 0.001) and internal (P < 0.05) globus pallidus, although not the insular cortex, in Huntington's disease cases. These data suggest that H3-receptors are present upon striatonigral projection neurons of the direct and indirect movement pathways thus providing histaminergic control over the activity of both these circuits.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Autoradiography
  • Female
  • Globus Pallidus / chemistry*
  • Histamine / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neostriatum / chemistry*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / chemistry
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / chemistry
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism
  • Radioligand Assay
  • Receptors, Histamine H3 / analysis*
  • Receptors, Histamine H3 / metabolism
  • Substantia Nigra / chemistry
  • Tritium


  • Receptors, Histamine H3
  • Tritium
  • Histamine