Immunohistochemical localization of histamine H3 receptors in rodent skin, dorsal root ganglia, superior cervical ganglia, and spinal cord: potential antinociceptive targets

Pain. 2007 May;129(1-2):76-92. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2006.09.039. Epub 2006 Nov 28.


Activation of histamine H3 receptors (H3Rs) reduces inflammation and nociception, but the existence of H3Rs on peripheral innervation has never been demonstrated. Here we use antibodies to locate H3Rs in whisker pads, hairy and glabrous hind paw skin, dorsal root ganglia (DRGs), and spinal cords of rats, wild type mice, and H3R knockout (H3KO) mice. Although H3Rs have been hypothesized to be on C and sympathetic fibers, H3R-like immunoreactivity (H3R-LI) was only detected on presumptive periarterial A delta fibers and on A beta fibers that terminated in Meissner's corpuscles and as lanceolate endings around hair follicles. The H3R-positive periarterial fibers were thin-caliber and coexpressed immunoreactivity for calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), substance P, acid sensing ion channel 3, and 200 kDa neurofilament protein (NF). H3R-LI was also detected on epidermal keratinocytes and Merkel cells, but not on Merkel endings, C fibers, any other A delta fibers, or sympathetic fibers. In DRGs, H3R-LI was preponderantly on medium to large neurons coexpressing NF-LI and mostly CGRP-LI. In dorsal horn, CGRP-positive fibers with and without H3R-LI ramified extensively in lamina II; many of the former formed a plexus in lamina V. Low levels of H3R-LI were also present on A beta fibers penetrating superficial and into deeper laminae. The distribution of H3R-LI was similar in rats and wild type mice, but was eliminated or strongly reduced in A delta fibers and A beta fibers, respectively, in H3KO mice. Taken with recently published behavioral results, the present findings suggest that periarterial, peptidergic, H3R-containing A delta fibers may be sources of high threshold mechanical nociception.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ganglia, Spinal / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Histamine H3 / deficiency
  • Receptors, Histamine H3 / metabolism*
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Superior Cervical Ganglion / metabolism*


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, Histamine H3