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September 21, 1940


JAMA. 1940;115(12):1023-1024. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810380053015

Haag and Lutz,1 of Düsseldorf, and Farmer,2 of Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, have shown that anaphylactic shock may be decreased in severity by at least two types of antihistamine therapy. These demonstrations go far to settle one of the historic controversial questions in allergic physiology. Since the time of the late Victor C. Vaughan, speculative theories of anaphylaxis have centered around the question of secondary toxicity. Vaughan's original assumption that the dominant symptoms in anaphylaxis are due to "anaphylatoxins" formed by partial hydrolysis of parenterally injected foreign proteins was eventually discarded. It was replaced by the Dale-Laidlaw3 theory, which assumes that stored-up vasodilator substances are set free by the fixed tissue cells as a result of antigenantibody reactions and that these freed histamine-like substances are the immediate cause of the typical allergic symptoms. This histamine theory has been subjected to extensive biochemical and physiologic research. A