Pathogenetic and Therapeutic Implications of the Histamine H4 Receptor in Inflammatory Skin Diseases and Pruritus

Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2011 Jun 1;3:985-94. doi: 10.2741/203.


Chronic inflammatory skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis (AD) are clinically characterized by erythematous and pruritic skin lesions, immunologically mediated by an inflammatory infiltrate consisting of T-cells, antigen presenting cells (APC) and eosinophilic granulocytes. Histamine levels are increased in lesions of inflammatory skin diseases. It is likely that histamine also plays a pathogenetic role since various relevant cell types such as T-cells and APC express functional histamine receptors. However, therapeutic blockade of the histamine H1 and H2 receptor is inefficient at least in the treatment of atopic dermatitis. We summarize here current data on the role of the recently described histamine H4 receptor (H4R) in chronic inflammatory skin diseases. The H4R is functionally expressed on relevant cell types such as T-cells, APC and keratinocytes. In murine models of contact hypersensitivity and pruritus, H4R blockade had significant in vivo effects. Taken together, several lines of evidence suggest a role of the H4R in chronic inflammatory skin disease and the H4R might be a therapeutic target for diseases such as AD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / metabolism*
  • Dermatitis, Contact / metabolism*
  • Dermatitis, Contact / physiopathology
  • Granulocytes / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Pruritus / metabolism*
  • Pruritus / physiopathology
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Histamine / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Histamine H4
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*


  • HRH4 protein, human
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Histamine
  • Receptors, Histamine H4