Sex- and afferent-specific differences in histamine receptor expression in vagal afferents of rats: A potential mechanism for sexual dimorphism in prevalence and severity of asthma

J. N. Li, X. L. Li, J. He, J. X. Wang, M. Zhao, X. B. Liang, S. Y. Zhao, M. N. Ma, Y. Liu, Y. B. Wang, H. Chen, G. F. Qiao, B. Y. Li

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13 Scopus citations


The incidence of asthma is more common in boys than in girls during the childhood, and more common in premenopausal female than age-matched males. Our previous study demonstrated a gender difference in histamine-mediated neuroexcitability in nodose ganglia neurons (NGNs), highlighting a possibility of histamine-mediated gender difference in asthma via visceral afferent function. In the present study, we aimed to explore the gender difference in expression profiles of histamine receptors (HRs) in nodose ganglia (NG) and individual identified NGNs to provide deeper insights into the mechanisms involved in sexual dimorphism of asthma. Western-blot and SYBR green RT-PCR showed that H2R and H3R were highly expressed in NG of females compared with males and downregulated in ovariectomized females. H1R was equally expressed in NG of both sexes and not altered by ovariectomy. Furthermore, this highly expressive H2R and H3R were distributed in both myelinated and unmyelinated NGNs isolated from adult female rats by immunofluorescence and single-cell RT-PCR. H3R widely distributed in all tested neuron subtypes and its expression did not show significant difference among neuron subtypes. H2R was widely and highly expressed in low-threshold and sex-specific subpopulation of myelinated Ah-types compared with myelinated A- and unmyelinated C-type NGNs. Unexpectedly, weak expression of H1R was detected in both myelinated and unmyelinated NGNs by immunofluorescence, which was further confirmed by single-cell RT-PCR. Our results suggest that the sexual dimorphism in the expression of H2R and H3R in vagal afferents very likely contributes, at least partially, to the gender difference in prevalence and severity of asthma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-177
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015



  • Asthma
  • Electrophysiology
  • Gender difference
  • Histamine receptor
  • Vagal afferents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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