Narrator: This is Science Today. Histamine is an inflammatory compound produced during allergies. Previously, it was thought that in the lungs, histamine was produced by mast cells, which are classically associated with allergies. But in a surprise finding, researchers discovered that white blood cells in the lung can produce histamine in significant amounts. Study leader George Caughey, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, says white blood cells are a major component of pus.
Caughey: I'd like to understand that there may be a major connection between infections and the triggering of allergic effects. And that histamine released from white blood cells recruited by infectious organisms, in the process of trying to deal with the infection, may worsen allergy.
Narrator: Caughey says there's interest in developing more selective antihistamines.
Caughey: There are four different receptors to histamine and the currently available antihistamines only target one or two of them and often non-selectively.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.