Postsynaptic mechanisms underlying the excitatory action of histamine on medial vestibular nucleus neurons in rats

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Background and Purpose

Anti-histaminergic drugs have been widely used in the clinical treatment of vestibular disorders and most studies concentrate on their presynaptic actions. The present study investigated the postsynaptic effect of histamine on medial vestibular nucleus (MVN) neurons and the underlying mechanisms.

Experimental Approach

Histamine-induced postsynaptic actions on MVN neurons and the corresponding receptor and ionic mechanisms were detected by whole-cell patch-clamp recordings on rat brain slices. The distribution of postsynaptic histamine H1, H2 and H4 receptors was mapped by double and single immunostaining. Furthermore, the expression of mRNAs for H1, H2 and H4 receptors and for subtypes of Na+–Ca2+ exchangers (NCXs) and hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels was assessed by quantitative real-time RT-PCR.

Key Results

A marked postsynaptic excitatory effect, co-mediated by histamine H1 and H2 receptors, was involved in the histamine-induced depolarization of MVN neurons. Postsynaptic H1 and H2 rather than H4 receptors were co-localized in the same MVN neurons. NCXs contributed to the inward current mediated by H1 receptors, whereas HCN channels were responsible for excitation induced by activation of H2 receptors. Moreover, NCX1 and NCX3 rather than NCX2, and HCN1 rather than HCN2-4 mRNAs, were abundantly expressed in MVN.

Conclusion and Implications

NCXs coupled to H1 receptors and HCN channels linked to H2 receptors co-mediate the strong postsynaptic excitatory action of histamine on MVN neurons. These results highlight an active role of postsynaptic mechanisms in the modulation by central histaminergic systems of vestibular functions and suggest potential targets for clinical treatment of vestibular disorders.

Linked Articles

This article is part of a themed issue on Histamine Pharmacology Update. To view the other articles in this issue visit

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