C57BL/6 mice immunized i.p. with alloantigen (P815 mastocytoma cells) develop cytolytically active thymus-derived (T) splenic lymphocytes. The definition of specific histamine receptor sites on effector T cells has been studied by measuring the in vitro effects of the hormone on cytolytic activity. Histamine was found to inhibit cytolysis reversibly and to increase lymphoid cell cyclic AMP levels. Both of these histamine activities were reversed by burimamide and metiamide; neither activity was affected by diphenhydramine or pyrilamine. These findings indicate that modulation of effector T cell activity by histamine is mediated only by one of the subtypes of tissue histamine receptors, designated a histamine-type 2 receptor. This receptor appears to be present on cytolytically active cells; there is no evidence for activation by histamine of auxiliary or "suppressor" cells. The estimated dissociation constant (KB) for the burimamide-receptor complex (9 times 10-minus 6 tm) and for the metiamide-receptor complex (8 times 10-minus 7 M) indicated that the histamine receptor on T cells is quite similar to histamine-type 2 receptors in other tissues. Cells bearing such receptors could not be isolated by passage through a column of histamine-coated tsepharose beads. The cytolytic activity of spleen cells taken from mice early (days 7-9) after immunization is virtually unaffected by histamine in vitro. In contrast, the activity of spleen cells taken from mice later in the immune response is progressively more susceptible to inhibition by histamine. After reaching a maximum at day 11, the spleen cell cytolytic activity falls in a pattern that parallels the increase in susceptibility to histamine. The susceptibility of effector T cells to histamine appears also to reflect their site of origin, for peritoneal exudate effector cells were found to be significantly less sensitive than spleen cells to inhibition by histamine. The progressive increase in inhibition by histamine apparently reflects the appearance of greater numbers of specific histamine-type 2 receptors, and is probably a general phenomenon, for spleen cells from A/J or C3H mice immunized with either P815 mastocytoma (H-2d) or EL-4 (H-2b) cells showed the same effect. However, the appearance of histamine receptors could be altered by prior immunization with an unrelated alloantigen: thus, when A/J mice are preimmunized with EL-4, a subsequent immunization with mastocytoma cells results in peak spleen anti-H-2d activity at day 9 instead of days 11-13, and the appearance of significant (greater than 40 percent) inhibition by histamine as early as day 8 instead of day 16. The physiological role of the histamine receptors is as yet undefined, though their unexpected rate of appearance on effector T cells, coincident with a decline in the number of lytically active cells in vivo, may be a significant hint that hormone receptors play a role in the control of T-cell proliferation.
M Plaut, L M Lichtenstein, C S Henney