Effects of histamine and diamine oxidase activities on pregnancy: a critical review.
- Department of Dermatology and Allergology, University of Bonn, Sigmund-Freud-Str. 25, 53105 Bonn, Germany.
Histamine has been assumed to contribute to embryo-uterine interactions due to its vasoactive, differentiation and growth-promoting properties. However, its exact functions in pregnancy are unclear. The histamine-degrading enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO) is produced in high amounts by the placenta and has been supposed to act as a metabolic barrier to prevent excessive entry of bioactive histamine from the placenta into the maternal or fetal circulation.
The literature available on PubMed published in English between 1910 and 2008 has been searched using the isolated and combined key words histamine, diamine oxidase, pregnancy, placenta, endometrium, miscarriage, implantation, pre-eclampsia, intrauterine growth retardation, diabetes and embryonic histamine-releasing factor (EHRF).
High expression of the histamine-producing enzyme histidine decarboxylase in the placenta, histamine receptors at the feto-maternal interface and the existence of an EHRF suggest a physiological role of histamine during gestation. The balance between histamine and DAO seems to be crucial for an uncomplicated course of pregnancy. Reduced DAO activities have been found in multiple heterogeneous complications of pregnancy such as diabetes, threatened and missed abortion and trophoblastic disorders. Whether women with histamine intolerance suffer from more complicated pregnancies and higher abortion rates due to impaired DAO activities and if low DAO levels or genetic modifications in the DAO gene might therefore represent a prognostic factor for a higher risk of abortion, has not been investigated yet.
Low activities of the histamine-degrading enzyme DAO might indicate high-risk pregnancies, although high intra- and interindividual variations limit its value as a screening tool.
Evidence for a reduced histamine degradation capacity in a subgroup of patients with atopic eczema.
- Department of Dermatology, University of Bonn, Germany.
A diminished histamine degradation based on a reduced diaminoxidase activity is suspected as a reason for non-IgE-mediated food intolerance caused by histamine. Atopic eczema (AE) is often complicated by relapses triggered by IgE-mediated allergy to different kinds of food. However, in a subgroup of patients with AE, allergy testing proves negative, although these patients report a coherence of food intake and worsening of AE and describe symptoms that are very similar to histamine intolerance (HIT).
It was the aim of our study to evaluate symptoms of HIT in combination with diaminoxidase levels in a total of 360 individuals consisting of patients with AE (n = 162) in comparison with patients with HIT (n = 124) without AE and healthy control volunteers (n = 85).
Histamine plasma level was determined with an ELISA and diaminoxidase serum activity with the help of radio extraction assays using [3H]-labeled putrescine-dihydrochloride as a substrate. Detailed clinical evaluations of characteristic features of AE and HIT were performed.
Reduced diaminoxidase serum levels leading to occurrence of HIT symptoms like chronic headache, dysmenorrhea, flushing, gastrointestinal symptoms, and intolerance of histamine-rich food and alcohol were significantly more common in patients with AE than in controls. Reduction of both symptoms of HIT and Severity Scoring of Atopic Dermatitis could be achieved by a histamine-free diet in the subgroup of patients with AE and low diaminoxidase serum levels.
Higher histamine plasma levels combined with a reduced histamine degradation capacity might influence the clinical course of a subgroup of patients with AE.
As HIT emerges in a subgroup of patients with AE, a detailed anamnestic evaluation of food intolerance and HIT symptoms complemented by an allergological screening for food allergy, a diet diary, and, in confirmed suspicion of HIT, measurement of diaminoxidase activity and a histamine-free diet should be undertaken.