Histaminergic and dopaminergic traits in the human carotid body

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2009 Feb 28;165(2-3):131-6. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2008.10.016. Epub 2008 Oct 31.


Carotid body (CB) chemoreceptors are the main sensors detecting systemic hypoxia. Studies in animals revealed that dopamine and histamine may serve as transmitters between the chemoreceptor cells and the afferent nerve. To gain insight whether histamine and dopamine could play a role in the human CB and thus be important for the understanding of breathing disorders, we have investigated the chemosensory traits in human CBs from nine subjects of different ages obtained at autopsy. Immunohistochemistry revealed expression of histidine decarboxylase, vesicular monoamine transporter 2, histamine receptors 1 and 3 in virtually all chemosensory cells within the glomeruli of different ages. By contrast, catecholaminergic traits (tyrosine hydroxylase and vesicular monoamine transporter 1) were only detected in a subset of CB chemosensory cells at each age group while dopamine D2 receptors were expressed in the great majority of them. Our data suggest that histamine along with catecholamines may serve as transmitters between chemoreceptor cells and the afferent nerve in humans as well.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Carotid Body / cytology*
  • Carotid Body / metabolism*
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Histamine / metabolism*
  • Histidine Decarboxylase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurons, Afferent / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Receptors, Histamine / metabolism
  • Receptors, Histamine H1 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Histamine H2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Histamine H3 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Histamine H4
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / metabolism
  • Vesicular Monoamine Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • HRH4 protein, human
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Histamine
  • Receptors, Histamine H1
  • Receptors, Histamine H2
  • Receptors, Histamine H3
  • Receptors, Histamine H4
  • SLC18A1 protein, human
  • SLC18A2 protein, human
  • Vesicular Monoamine Transport Proteins
  • Histamine
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Histidine Decarboxylase
  • Dopamine