Alcohol-histamine interactions

Alcohol Alcohol. 1999 Mar-Apr;34(2):141-7. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/34.2.141.


Alcohol and histamine metabolic pathways in the body have the common enzymes aldehyde dehydrogenase and aldehyde oxidase. The metabolite of ethanol, acetaldehyde, can effectively compete with the metabolites of histamine, methylimidazole acetaldehyde, and imidazole acetaldehyde. At the periphery, alcohol and acetaldehyde liberate histamine from its store in mast cells and depress histamine elimination by inhibiting diamine oxidase, resulting in elevated histamine levels in tissues. Histamine mediates alcohol-induced gastric and intestinal damage and bronchial asthma as well as flushing in Orientals. On the other hand, alcohol provokes food-induced histaminosis and histamine intolerance, which is an epidemiological problem. There are many controversial reports concerning the effect of H2 receptor antagonists on ethanol metabolism and the activity of alcohol dehydrogenase in the stomach. In addition, alcohol affects histamine levels in the brain by modulating histamine synthesis, release, and turnover. Histamine receptor antagonists can affect ethanol metabolism and change the sensitivity of animals to the hypnotic effects of alcohol. In contrast to other neurotransmitters, the involvement of the brain histamine system in the mechanisms of the central actions of alcohol and in the pathogenesis of alcoholism is poorly studied and understood.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Deterrents / metabolism
  • Alcohol Deterrents / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Drug Interactions
  • Ethanol / metabolism*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Ethnicity
  • Flushing / physiopathology
  • Histamine / metabolism*
  • Histamine Agonists / metabolism
  • Histamine Agonists / pharmacology
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / metabolism
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Histamine H2 Antagonists / metabolism
  • Histamine H2 Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Histamine / drug effects*


  • Alcohol Deterrents
  • Histamine Agonists
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists
  • Histamine H2 Antagonists
  • Receptors, Histamine
  • Ethanol
  • Histamine