Histamine receptors are present on the surface of various normal and tumor-derived cell types, where their biological function is incompletely understood. Here we report that histamine not only stimulates cell proliferation under serum-free conditions, but also is chemotactic for human carcinoma (Hela and A431) and melanoma (A875) cells expressing H1 type receptors. Histamine was found to be a potent activator of phospholipase C, leading to polyphosphoinositide hydrolysis and subsequent intracellular Ca2+ mobilization. In addition, histamine also causes the protein kinase C-mediated activation of Na+/H+ exchange, as evidenced by an amiloride-sensitive rise in cytoplasmic pH. All histamine-induced responses, including chemotaxis and DNA synthesis, are completely inhibited by the H1 receptor antagonist pyrilamine, but not by cimetidine, an inhibitor of histamine H2 type receptors. Our results suggest that histamine may have a previously unrecognized role in the migration and proliferation of cells expressing H1 receptors.

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