Physiological Reviews

Histamine in the Nervous System

Helmut L. Haas, Olga A. Sergeeva, Oliver Selbach


Histamine is a transmitter in the nervous system and a signaling molecule in the gut, the skin, and the immune system. Histaminergic neurons in mammalian brain are located exclusively in the tuberomamillary nucleus of the posterior hypothalamus and send their axons all over the central nervous system. Active solely during waking, they maintain wakefulness and attention. Three of the four known histamine receptors and binding to glutamate NMDA receptors serve multiple functions in the brain, particularly control of excitability and plasticity. H1 and H2 receptor-mediated actions are mostly excitatory; H3 receptors act as inhibitory auto- and heteroreceptors. Mutual interactions with other transmitter systems form a network that links basic homeostatic and higher brain functions, including sleep-wake regulation, circadian and feeding rhythms, immunity, learning, and memory in health and disease.

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