Betahistine increases vestibular blood flow

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1999 Mar;120(3):400-5. doi: 10.1016/S0194-5998(99)70283-4.


Betahistine is used for treatment of several vestibular disorders. Despite the accepted use of this histamine-like substance, its mechanism of action is not well understood. The purpose of this study was to assess the possibility that one of the activities of betahistine is increasing blood flow in the peripheral vestibular end organs. Using a novel surgical approach, we identified the posterior semicircular canal ampulla of guinea pigs and placed a laser Doppler probe in position to obtain blood flow measurements from the posterior semicircular canal ampulla. Blood pressure, heart rate, and vestibular blood flow were continuously recorded. Concentration-response curves were obtained for betahistine (2.5, 5, 7.5, and 10 mg/kg) and control-vehicle (0.15 mol/L NaCl) infusions. A separate group of subjects was pretreated with the competitive selective H3 agonist, thioperimide maleate, before betahistine treatment. Increases in vestibular blood flow and decreases in blood pressure were observed in response to betahistine infusions. Pretreatment with thioperamide maleate abolished these changes at low doses of betahistine and attenuated the responses at higher doses of betahistine. These results show that betahistine administration induces increases in vestibular blood flow. These findings support the potential use of betahistine for treatment of vestibular disorders, which may be caused by compromised circulation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Betahistine / pharmacology*
  • Blood Flow Velocity / drug effects*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Histamine Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Histamine Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Laser-Doppler Flowmetry
  • Male
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Time Factors
  • Vasodilator Agents / pharmacology*
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / blood supply*


  • Histamine Agonists
  • Histamine Antagonists
  • Piperidines
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • thioperamide
  • Betahistine