Histamine is a biogenic amine that is chiefly produced in mast cells and basophils and elicits an allergic response upon stimulation. Histidine decarboxylase (HDC) is a unique enzyme that catalyzes the synthesis of histamine. Therefore, the spatiotemporally specific Hdc gene expression profile could represent the localization of histamine-producing cells under various pathophysiological conditions. Although the bioactivity of histamine is well defined, the regulatory mechanism of Hdc gene expression and the distribution of histamine-producing cell populations in various disease contexts remains unexplored. To address these issues, we generated a histidine decarboxylase BAC (bacterial artificial chromosome) DNA-directed GFP reporter transgenic mouse employing a 293-kb BAC clone containing the entire Hdc gene locus and extended flanking sequences (Hdc-GFP). We found that the GFP expression pattern in the Hdc-GFP mice faithfully recapitulated that of conventional histamine-producing cells and that the GFP expression level mirrored the increased Hdc expression in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced septic lungs. Notably, a CD11b+Ly6G+Ly6Clow myeloid cell population accumulated in the lung during sepsis, and most of these cells expressed high levels of GFP and indeed contain histamine. This study reveals the accumulation of a histamine-producing myeloid cell population during sepsis, which likely participates in the immune process of sepsis.
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