Synergistic mucus secretion by histamine and IL-4 through TMEM16A in airway epithelium

Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2017 Sep 1;313(3):L466-L476. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00103.2017. Epub 2017 May 25.


Histamine is an important mediator of allergic reactions, and mucus hypersecretion is a major allergic symptom. However, the direct effect of histamine on mucus secretion from airway mucosal epithelia has not been clearly demonstrated. TMEM16A is a Ca2+-activated chloride channel, and it is closely related to fluid secretion in airway mucosal epithelia. We investigated whether histamine directly induces fluid secretion from epithelial cells or submucosal glands (SMG) and mechanisms related, therewith, in allergic airway diseases. In pig airway tissues from the nose or trachea, histamine was a potent secretagogue that directly induced strong responses. However, gland secretion from human nasal tissue was not induced by histamine, even in allergic rhinitis patients. Histamine type 1 receptor (H1R) and histamine type 2 receptor (H2R) were not noted in SMG by in situ hybridization. Cultured primary human nasal epithelial (NHE) cells were used for the measurement of short-circuit current changes with the Ussing chamber. Histamine-induced slight responses of anion secretions under normal conditions. The response was enhanced by IL-4 stimulation through TMEM16A, which might be related to fluid hypersecretion in allergic rhinitis. Pretreatment with IL-4 augmented the histamine response that was suppressed by a TMEM16A inhibitor. TMEM16A expression was enhanced by 24-h treatment of IL-4 in human nasal epithelial cells. The expression of TMEM16A was significantly elevated in an allergic rhinitis group, compared with a control group. We elucidated histamine-induced fluid secretions in synergy with IL-4 through TMEM16A in the human airway epithelium. In addition, we observed species differences between pigs and humans in terms of gland secretion of histamine.

Keywords: IL-4; TMEM16A; airway; epithelium; histamine; mucus; submucosal gland.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Anoctamin-1
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chloride Channels / metabolism*
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Histamine / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-4 / pharmacology*
  • Ion Channel Gating / drug effects
  • Models, Biological
  • Mucus / metabolism*
  • Nasal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Histamine / genetics
  • Receptors, Histamine / metabolism
  • Respiratory Mucosa / drug effects
  • Respiratory Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic / metabolism
  • Rhinitis, Allergic / pathology
  • Sus scrofa
  • Trachea / pathology
  • Turbinates / metabolism


  • ANO1 protein, human
  • Anoctamin-1
  • Chloride Channels
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Histamine
  • Interleukin-4
  • Histamine