Narrator: This is Science Today. University of California, San Francisco scientists were surprised to discover that histamine – the inflammatory compound released during allergic reactions – can be produced in large quantities in the lung's white blood cells, or neutrophils.
Caughey: These white blood cells are typically associated with pus and infection and were not known to be a major source of histamine, which has its major association with allergic phenomena.
Narrator: George Caughey, chief of pulmonary/critical care medicine at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, led the study.
Caughey: We knew that most people, who end up with serious asthma attacks, have their attacks provoked by infection and we were interested in knowing why that happened. And it was part of our probing of that question that led us to this largely serendipitous chance discovery that a certain white blood cell could produce large amounts of histamine.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.