Histamine plays a major role in the immune response for allergies, as well as various other purposes in other body systems. The compound is intrinsic to at least 23 physiological functions. Histamine can perform these functions because it has unique chemical properties that allow its versatility in binding. The body can synthesize histamine in all tissues, but the lungs, skin, and gastrointestinal tract have the most histamine.
Histamine is a small molecule that results from the decarboxylation of histidine. Decarboxylation is a complex chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group and, as a result, releases carbon dioxide. Carboxyl groups are common and present in many molecules, such as fatty and amino acids. Once the histamine forms, the body either stores it or rapidly inactivates it. Some bacteria are also capable of producing histamine, causing non-infectious foodborne diseases. A similar reaction causes certain fermented foods and drinks, such as wine, to have small amounts of histamine.
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