Human memory Th17 cells express a functional histamine H4 receptor

Am J Pathol. 2012 Jan;180(1):177-85. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.09.028. Epub 2011 Nov 4.


The histamine H4 receptor is functionally expressed on CD4(+) T cells and in particular on human CD4(+) Th2-polarized T cells. Interleukin (IL)-17-producing T cells (Th17 cells) represent a newly defined major CD4(+) T-cell subset, having been identified in psoriatic plaques and in acute skin lesions of atopic dermatitis where histamine is also present in high concentrations. To elucidate the role of the histamine H4 receptor (H4R) on these effector T cells, we polarized human memory T cells into Th17 cells. Further, we investigated H4R expression and assessed its function by real-time PCR, by a cytokine secretion assay of IL-17, and by electrophoretic mobility shift assay of activating protein-1 (AP-1). We show that Th17 cells polarized by IL-1β together with IL-23 express the H4R on mRNA and protein level. Additionally, we identified IL-17-positive cells in psoriatic skin lesions. The IL-17-positive lymphocytes were all positive also for functional H4R. Stimulation with histamine or a H4R agonist increased the production of IL-17 and induced activating protein-1 in Th17 cells. In inflammatory skin diseases with enhanced histamine release, such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, histamine might foster the immunomodulatory potency of skin-infiltrating Th17 cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-17 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-1beta / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-23 / pharmacology
  • Methylhistamines / pharmacology
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / physiology*
  • Receptors, Histamine / metabolism
  • Receptors, Histamine / physiology*
  • Receptors, Histamine H4
  • Th17 Cells / metabolism*
  • Th17 Cells / pathology
  • Transcription Factor AP-1 / pharmacology


  • Drug Combinations
  • HRH4 protein, human
  • Interleukin-17
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-23
  • Methylhistamines
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Histamine
  • Receptors, Histamine H4
  • Transcription Factor AP-1
  • 4-methylhistamine