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November 1960

The Metabolism and Functions of Histamine

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine.

Arch Intern Med. 1960;106(5):714-733. doi:10.1001/archinte.1960.03820050126016

Introduction  Few biological agents have received more attention than histamine during the past half-century. This simple chemical was synthesized in 1907 by Windaus and Vogt,1 and was soon identified as a potent pharmacologic agent.2,3 Although histamine is now well recognized as a normal intracellular constituent of many body tissues, years of study were required to establish this fact. Potent vasodilator substances were extractable from animal tissues, but the identity of any with histamine was difficult to prove.4 Two decades of research were required to establish the importance of intracellular histamine and the physiological significance of its release. Of note were the classical observations of Thomas Lewis on the whealing response in human skin 5 and the studies by H. H. Dale on cellular histamine so nicely described in his Croonian lectures of 1929.6 Dale suggested that antigen-antibody reactions might release histamine, but he also emphasized the many differences between the