Histamine acts as a neurotransmitter to regulate various physiological functions in CNS. Recent reports showed the involvement of histaminergic dysfunction in neurological disorders. Neurotransmitter clearance is essential to determine brain neurotransmitter concentration. However, molecular mechanism of brain histamine clearance remains largely unknown. First, we examined the molecular mechanism of histamine clearance in primary human astrocytes. We demonstrated that extracellular histamine was transported through organic cation transporter (OCT) 3 and plasma membrane monoamine transporter (PMAT), and subsequently intracellular histamine was inactivated by histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT) in cytosol. Next, we generated HNMT knockout (HNMT KO) mice to investigate the role of HNMT in vivo. HNMT deficiency dramatically enhanced brain histamine concentration, indicating the important role of HNMT in histamine inactivation. HNMT KO mice showed high aggression via abnormal histamine H2 receptor (H2R) activation and the disrupted sleep-wake cycle via excessive H1R activation. These observations show that HNMT plays a pivotal role in regulating brain histamine concentration, and modulates aggression as well as the sleep-wake cycle. Although importance of OCT3 and PMAT in histaminergic nervous system remains still unknown, our preliminary data show the contribution of PMAT to brain histamine concentration. We also try to find novel inhibitors targeting brain histamine clearance. We hope our study could lead a better understanding of neuropsychiatric disorders and the development of new drugs inhibiting HNMT, OCT3 and PMAT activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas