2004 Volume 11 Issue 3 Pages 122-130
The atherosclerotic intimal lesion contains endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, monocytes/macrophages and T lymphocytes, which constitute a histamine-cytokine network that participates in chronic inflammatory responses. Monocytes/macrophages and T lymphocytes express the histamine-producing enzyme histidine decarboxylase (HDC), and specific histamine receptors (HHR), which are switched from HH2R to HHR1 during macrophage differentiation. Endothelial and smooth muscle cells also express HHR in response to histamine. The effects of histamine on these cells include a regulation of atherosclerosis-related events such as cell proliferation, expression of matrix metalloproteinase, adhesion molecules and cytokines. Furthermore, recent studies have indicated that histamine and the activation of its specific receptors modulate the Th1/Th2 balance in inflammatory lesions through the regulation of cytokine production from inflammatory cells. The histamine-cytokine network in the atherosclerotic intima could regulate inflammatory and immune responses, including Th1/Th2 balance, and contribute to atherogenesis.