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histamine


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n. a compound derived from the amino acid histidine. It is found in nearly all tissues of the body, associated mainly with the mast cells. Histamine has pronounced pharmacological activity, causing dilation of blood vessels and contraction of smooth muscle (for example, in the lungs). It is an important mediator of inflammation and is released in large amounts after skin damage (such as that due to animal venoms and toxins), producing a characteristic skin reaction (consisting of flushing, a flare, and a weal). Histamine is also released in anaphylactic reactions and allergic conditions, including asthma, and gives rise to some of the symptoms of these conditions. See also anaphylaxis, antihistamine.

Subjects: Medicine and Health — Science and Mathematics.


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