Histamine Release from Mast Cells and Basophils

Handb Exp Pharmacol. 2017:241:121-139. doi: 10.1007/164_2017_18.


Mast cells and basophils represent the most relevant source of histamine in the immune system. Histamine is stored in cytoplasmic granules along with other amines (e.g., serotonin), proteases, proteoglycans, cytokines/chemokines, and angiogenic factors and rapidly released upon triggering with a variety of stimuli. Moreover, mast cell and basophil histamine release is regulated by several activating and inhibitory receptors. The engagement of different receptors can trigger different modalities of histamine release and degranulation. Histamine released from mast cells and basophils exerts its biological activities by activating four G protein-coupled receptors, namely H1R, H2R, H3R (expressed mainly in the brain), and the recently identified H4R. While H1R and H2R activation accounts mainly for some mast cell- and basophil-mediated allergic disorders, the selective expression of H4R on immune cells is uncovering new roles for histamine (possibly derived from mast cells and basophils) in allergic, inflammatory, and autoimmune disorders. Thus, the in-depth knowledge of mast cell and basophil histamine release and its biologic effects is poised to uncover new therapeutic avenues for a wide spectrum of disorders.

Keywords: Basophil; Degranulation; Histamine; Histamine receptors; Mast cell.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basophils / metabolism*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Histamine / metabolism*
  • Histamine Release / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / metabolism
  • Immune System / metabolism
  • Mast Cells / metabolism*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Histamine