Histamine dilutions modulate basophil activation

Inflamm Res. 2004 May;53(5):181-8. doi: 10.1007/s00011-003-1242-0. Epub 2004 Apr 21.


Background: In order to demonstrate that high dilutions of histamine are able to inhibit basophil activation in a reproducible fashion, several techniques were used in different research laboratories.

Objective: The aim of the study was to investigate the action of histamine dilutions on basophil activation.

Methods: Basophil activation was assessed by alcian blue staining, measurement of histamine release and CD63 expression. Study 1 used a blinded multi-centre approach in 4 centres. Study 2, related to the confirmation of the multi-centre study by flow cytometry, was performed independently in 3 laboratories. Study 3 examined the histamine release (one laboratory) and the activity of H(2) receptor antagonists and structural analogues (two laboratories).

Results: High dilutions of histamine (10(-30)-10(-38) M) influence the activation of human basophils measured by alcian blue staining. The degree of inhibition depends on the initial level of anti-IgE induced stimulation, with the greatest inhibitory effects seen at lower levels of stimulation. This multicentre study was confirmed in the three laboratories by using flow cytometry and in one laboratory by histamine release. Inhibition of CD63 expression by histamine high dilutions was reversed by cimetidine (effect observed in two laboratories) and not by ranitidine (one laboratory). Histidine tested in parallel with histamine showed no activity on this model.

Conclusions: In 3 different types of experiment, it has been shown that high dilutions of histamine may indeed exert an effect on basophil activity. This activity observed by staining basophils with alcian blue was confirmed by flow cytometry. Inhibition by histamine was reversed by anti-H2 and was not observed with histidine these results being in favour of the specificity of this effect We are however unable to explain our findings and are reporting them to encourage others to investigate this phenomenon.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcian Blue
  • Antibodies, Anti-Idiotypic / pharmacology
  • Basophils / drug effects*
  • Basophils / immunology
  • Cimetidine / pharmacology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Histamine / pharmacology*
  • Histamine H2 Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Histamine Release / drug effects*
  • Histamine Release / immunology
  • Humans
  • Ranitidine / pharmacology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Antibodies, Anti-Idiotypic
  • Histamine H2 Antagonists
  • anti-IgE antibodies
  • Cimetidine
  • Histamine
  • Ranitidine
  • Alcian Blue