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Antihistamines

Antihistamines are drugs that target histamine receptors Receptors Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors, particularly H1 and H2 receptors Receptors Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors. H1 antagonists are competitive and reversible inhibitors of H1 receptors Receptors Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors. First-generation antihistamines cross the blood-brain barrier Blood-brain barrier Specialized non-fenestrated tightly-joined endothelial cells with tight junctions that form a transport barrier for certain substances between the cerebral capillaries and the brain tissue. Systemic and Special Circulations and can cause sedation. Additionally, with the ability to block muscarinic receptors Receptors Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors, anticholinergic Anticholinergic Anticholinergic drugs block the effect of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine at the muscarinic receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systems. Anticholinergic agents inhibit the parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in effects on the smooth muscle in the respiratory tract, vascular system, urinary tract, GI tract, and pupils of the eyes. Anticholinergic Drugs effects are also observed with this class of drugs. The 1st-generation H1 antagonists include chlorpheniramine, diphenhydramine, dimenhydrinate, and meclizine. Second-generation antihistamines generally do not cause drowsiness as these agents do not cross the blood-brain barrier Blood-brain barrier Specialized non-fenestrated tightly-joined endothelial cells with tight junctions that form a transport barrier for certain substances between the cerebral capillaries and the brain tissue. Systemic and Special Circulations. Examples of 2nd-generation antihistamines include loratadine, desloratadine, and cetirizine. Due to their antihistaminic activity, H1 antagonists are prescribed to treat allergy Allergy An abnormal adaptive immune response that may or may not involve antigen-specific IgE Type I Hypersensitivity Reaction symptoms. Moreover, 1st-generation antihistamines are also used to treat motion sickness, nausea Nausea An unpleasant sensation in the stomach usually accompanied by the urge to vomit. Common causes are early pregnancy, sea and motion sickness, emotional stress, intense pain, food poisoning, and various enteroviruses. Antiemetics, and vomiting Vomiting The forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth. Hypokalemia. H2 antagonists (blockers) target the H2 receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors, reducing gastric acid Gastric acid Hydrochloric acid present in gastric juice. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) production and secretion Secretion Coagulation Studies. Thus, the general indications of H2 blockers include treatment of GERD GERD Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when the stomach acid frequently flows back into the esophagus. This backwash (acid reflux) can irritate the lining of the esophagus, causing symptoms such as retrosternal burning pain (heartburn). Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and gastric and duodenal ulcers.

Last updated: Jul 11, 2022

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Overview

Histamine

  • An endogenous substance involved in immediate allergic response and gastric acid Gastric acid Hydrochloric acid present in gastric juice. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) regulation
  • Also participates in neurotransmitter modulation
  • Major sites of storage:
    • Mast cells Mast cells Granulated cells that are found in almost all tissues, most abundantly in the skin and the gastrointestinal tract. Like the basophils, mast cells contain large amounts of histamine and heparin. Unlike basophils, mast cells normally remain in the tissues and do not circulate in the blood. Mast cells, derived from the bone marrow stem cells, are regulated by the stem cell factor. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation in tissues
    • Basophils Basophils Granular leukocytes characterized by a relatively pale-staining, lobate nucleus and cytoplasm containing coarse dark-staining granules of variable size and stainable by basic dyes. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation in blood
  • Both basophils Basophils Granular leukocytes characterized by a relatively pale-staining, lobate nucleus and cytoplasm containing coarse dark-staining granules of variable size and stainable by basic dyes. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation and mast cells Mast cells Granulated cells that are found in almost all tissues, most abundantly in the skin and the gastrointestinal tract. Like the basophils, mast cells contain large amounts of histamine and heparin. Unlike basophils, mast cells normally remain in the tissues and do not circulate in the blood. Mast cells, derived from the bone marrow stem cells, are regulated by the stem cell factor. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation play a major role in type I hypersensitivity reactions.
  • Histamine receptors Receptors Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors and distribution:
    • H1: smooth muscles Smooth muscles Unstriated and unstriped muscle, one of the muscles of the internal organs, blood vessels, hair follicles, etc. Contractile elements are elongated, usually spindle-shaped cells with centrally located nuclei. Smooth muscle fibers are bound together into sheets or bundles by reticular fibers and frequently elastic nets are also abundant. Muscle Tissue: Histology (e.g., intestinal, bronchial), endothelial cells, CNS
    • H2: gastric parietal cells Parietal cells Rounded or pyramidal cells of the gastric glands. They secrete hydrochloric acid and produce gastric intrinsic factor, a glycoprotein that binds vitamin B12. Stomach: Anatomy, cardiac muscle Cardiac muscle The muscle tissue of the heart. It is composed of striated, involuntary muscle cells connected to form the contractile pump to generate blood flow. Muscle Tissue: Histology, mast cells Mast cells Granulated cells that are found in almost all tissues, most abundantly in the skin and the gastrointestinal tract. Like the basophils, mast cells contain large amounts of histamine and heparin. Unlike basophils, mast cells normally remain in the tissues and do not circulate in the blood. Mast cells, derived from the bone marrow stem cells, are regulated by the stem cell factor. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation, CNS
    • H3: CNS
    • H4: cells of hematopoietic origin
Type i anaphylactic hypersensitivity (acute)

Pathophysiology of type 1 Type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy hypersensitivity:
1. Antigen-presenting cells Antigen-presenting cells A heterogeneous group of immunocompetent cells that mediate the cellular immune response by processing and presenting antigens to the T-cells. Traditional antigen-presenting cells include macrophages; dendritic cells; langerhans cells; and B-lymphocytes. Follicular dendritic cells are not traditional antigen-presenting cells, but because they hold antigen on their cell surface in the form of immune complexes for b-cell recognition they are considered so by some authors. Adaptive Immune Response (APCs) recognize the allergen and present to naive T cells T cells Lymphocytes responsible for cell-mediated immunity. Two types have been identified – cytotoxic (t-lymphocytes, cytotoxic) and helper T-lymphocytes (t-lymphocytes, helper-inducer). They are formed when lymphocytes circulate through the thymus gland and differentiate to thymocytes. When exposed to an antigen, they divide rapidly and produce large numbers of new T cells sensitized to that antigen. T cells: Types and Functions
2. T cells T cells Lymphocytes responsible for cell-mediated immunity. Two types have been identified – cytotoxic (t-lymphocytes, cytotoxic) and helper T-lymphocytes (t-lymphocytes, helper-inducer). They are formed when lymphocytes circulate through the thymus gland and differentiate to thymocytes. When exposed to an antigen, they divide rapidly and produce large numbers of new T cells sensitized to that antigen. T cells: Types and Functions differentiate into Th2 Th2 A subset of helper-inducer T-lymphocytes which synthesize and secrete the interleukins il-4; il-5; il-6; and il-10. These cytokines influence b-cell development and antibody production as well as augmenting humoral responses. T cells: Types and Functions, which release Release Release of a virus from the host cell following virus assembly and maturation. Egress can occur by host cell lysis, exocytosis, or budding through the plasma membrane. Virology interleukins Interleukins Interleukins are a type of cytokines (signaling proteins) that communicate messages between different parts of the immune system. The majority of interleukins are synthesized by helper CD4 T lymphocytes along with other cells such as monocytes, macrophages, and endothelial cells. Interleukins.
3. Interleukins Interleukins Interleukins are a type of cytokines (signaling proteins) that communicate messages between different parts of the immune system. The majority of interleukins are synthesized by helper CD4 T lymphocytes along with other cells such as monocytes, macrophages, and endothelial cells. Interleukins stimulate B cells B cells Lymphoid cells concerned with humoral immunity. They are short-lived cells resembling bursa-derived lymphocytes of birds in their production of immunoglobulin upon appropriate stimulation. B cells: Types and Functions to produce IgE IgE An immunoglobulin associated with mast cells. Overexpression has been associated with allergic hypersensitivity. Immunoglobulins: Types and Functions.
4. Antigen-specific IgE IgE An immunoglobulin associated with mast cells. Overexpression has been associated with allergic hypersensitivity. Immunoglobulins: Types and Functions binds to mast cells Mast cells Granulated cells that are found in almost all tissues, most abundantly in the skin and the gastrointestinal tract. Like the basophils, mast cells contain large amounts of histamine and heparin. Unlike basophils, mast cells normally remain in the tissues and do not circulate in the blood. Mast cells, derived from the bone marrow stem cells, are regulated by the stem cell factor. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation and basophils Basophils Granular leukocytes characterized by a relatively pale-staining, lobate nucleus and cytoplasm containing coarse dark-staining granules of variable size and stainable by basic dyes. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation.
5. Subsequent exposure to the same antigen Antigen Substances that are recognized by the immune system and induce an immune reaction. Vaccination leads to degranulation and release Release Release of a virus from the host cell following virus assembly and maturation. Egress can occur by host cell lysis, exocytosis, or budding through the plasma membrane. Virology of mediators.

TCR TCR Molecules on the surface of T-lymphocytes that recognize and combine with antigens. The receptors are non-covalently associated with a complex of several polypeptides collectively called CD3 antigens. Recognition of foreign antigen and the major histocompatibility complex is accomplished by a single heterodimeric antigen-receptor structure, composed of either alpha-beta or gamma-delta chains. Adaptive Cell-mediated Immunity: T cell receptor T cell receptor Molecules on the surface of T-lymphocytes that recognize and combine with antigens. The receptors are non-covalently associated with a complex of several polypeptides collectively called CD3 antigens. Recognition of foreign antigen and the major histocompatibility complex is accomplished by a single heterodimeric antigen-receptor structure, composed of either alpha-beta or gamma-delta chains. Adaptive Cell-mediated Immunity

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Antihistamines

  • H1 and H2 receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors antagonists (antihistamines) are approved for clinical use.
  • H1 antagonists:
    • Used to manage allergic symptoms
    • 1st-generation drugs cross the blood– brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification barrier, thus interacting with the CNS receptors Receptors Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors and causing sedation.
    • 2nd-generation drugs do not cross the blood– brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification barrier and are considered nonsedating.
  • H2 antagonists:
    • Exert effects on the upper GI tract
    • Prevent histamine-induced acid release Release Release of a virus from the host cell following virus assembly and maturation. Egress can occur by host cell lysis, exocytosis, or budding through the plasma membrane. Virology

H1 Antagonists

Medications

Table: H1 antagonists
1st generation 2nd generation
  • Carbinoxamine
  • Chlorpheniramine
  • Clemastine
  • Dexchlorpheniramine
  • Dimenhydrinate
  • Diphenhydramine
  • Doxylamine
  • Hydroxyzine
  • Meclizine
  • Promethazine
  • Triprolidine
  • Alcaftadine
  • Azelastine
  • Bepotastine
  • Bilastine
  • Cetirizine
  • Desloratadine
  • Emedastine
  • Epinastine
  • Fexofenadine
  • Ketotifen
  • Levocetirizine
  • Loratadine
  • Olopatadine
  • Rupatadine

Chemistry and pharmacodynamics Pharmacodynamics Pharmacodynamics is the science that studies the biochemical and physiologic effects of a drug and its organ-specific mechanism of action, including effects on the cellular level. Pharmacokinetics is “what the body does to the drug,” whereas pharmacodynamics is “what the drug does to the body.” Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics

  • Many H1 antagonists have a substituted ethylamine moiety.
  • Mechanism of action:
    • Competitive antagonists of H1 receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors
    • Able to block muscarinic receptors Receptors Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors (1st generation)
  • Effects:
    • Inhibit constriction of smooth muscles Smooth muscles Unstriated and unstriped muscle, one of the muscles of the internal organs, blood vessels, hair follicles, etc. Contractile elements are elongated, usually spindle-shaped cells with centrally located nuclei. Smooth muscle fibers are bound together into sheets or bundles by reticular fibers and frequently elastic nets are also abundant. Muscle Tissue: Histology (e.g., respiratory muscles)
    • Inhibit vasodilation Vasodilation The physiological widening of blood vessels by relaxing the underlying vascular smooth muscle. Pulmonary Hypertension Drugs (endothelial cells)
    • ↓ Capillary permeability, reducing edema Edema Edema is a condition in which excess serous fluid accumulates in the body cavity or interstitial space of connective tissues. Edema is a symptom observed in several medical conditions. It can be categorized into 2 types, namely, peripheral (in the extremities) and internal (in an organ or body cavity). Edema and wheal Wheal Urticaria (Hives) formation
    • Can suppress itching by reducing histamine effects on nerve endings
    • H1 antagonists have anticholinergic Anticholinergic Anticholinergic drugs block the effect of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine at the muscarinic receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systems. Anticholinergic agents inhibit the parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in effects on the smooth muscle in the respiratory tract, vascular system, urinary tract, GI tract, and pupils of the eyes. Anticholinergic Drugs effects due to inhibition of the muscarinic receptors Receptors Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors (therapeutically used to treat motion sickness).
Chemical structures of histamine and diphenhydramine

Chemical structures of histamine and diphenhydramine

Image: “Skeletal formula of histamine” by Vaccinationist. License: Public Domain
Image: “Skeletal formula of diphenhydramine” by Fvasconcellos. License: Public Domain

Pharmacokinetics Pharmacokinetics Pharmacokinetics is the science that analyzes how the human body interacts with a drug. Pharmacokinetics examines how the drug is absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and excreted by the body. Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics

Table: Pharmacokinetics Pharmacokinetics Pharmacokinetics is the science that analyzes how the human body interacts with a drug. Pharmacokinetics examines how the drug is absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and excreted by the body. Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of representative H1 antagonists
Type Drug Pharmacokinetics Pharmacokinetics Pharmacokinetics is the science that analyzes how the human body interacts with a drug. Pharmacokinetics examines how the drug is absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and excreted by the body. Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics
1st generation Chlorpheniramine
  • Oral
  • 33% protein binding
  • Half-life Half-Life The time it takes for a substance (drug, radioactive nuclide, or other) to lose half of its pharmacologic, physiologic, or radiologic activity. Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics: up to 24 hours
  • Hepatic metabolism (CYP450)
  • Excretion: urine
Diphenhydramine
  • Oral, IM, IV
  • 99% protein binding
  • Half-life Half-Life The time it takes for a substance (drug, radioactive nuclide, or other) to lose half of its pharmacologic, physiologic, or radiologic activity. Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics: up to 12 hours (adults)
  • Hepatic metabolism (N-demethylation by CYP2D6)
  • Excretion: urine
Meclizine
  • Oral
  • Half-life Half-Life The time it takes for a substance (drug, radioactive nuclide, or other) to lose half of its pharmacologic, physiologic, or radiologic activity. Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics: approximately 5 hours
  • Hepatic metabolism
  • Excretion: urine and feces
Promethazine
  • Oral, rectal, IV, IM
  • Rapid oral absorption Absorption Absorption involves the uptake of nutrient molecules and their transfer from the lumen of the GI tract across the enterocytes and into the interstitial space, where they can be taken up in the venous or lymphatic circulation. Digestion and Absorption
  • Hepatic metabolism
  • Excretion: urine, feces
2nd generation Cetirizine
  • Oral
  • Rapid absorption Absorption Absorption involves the uptake of nutrient molecules and their transfer from the lumen of the GI tract across the enterocytes and into the interstitial space, where they can be taken up in the venous or lymphatic circulation. Digestion and Absorption
  • Half-life Half-Life The time it takes for a substance (drug, radioactive nuclide, or other) to lose half of its pharmacologic, physiologic, or radiologic activity. Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics: 8 hours
  • Limited hepatic metabolism
  • Excretion: mostly urine
Loratidine
  • Oral
  • Rapid absorption Absorption Absorption involves the uptake of nutrient molecules and their transfer from the lumen of the GI tract across the enterocytes and into the interstitial space, where they can be taken up in the venous or lymphatic circulation. Digestion and Absorption
  • Half-life Half-Life The time it takes for a substance (drug, radioactive nuclide, or other) to lose half of its pharmacologic, physiologic, or radiologic activity. Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics: 8 hours
  • Hepatic metabolism
  • Excretion: urine and feces
Olopatadine
  • Nasal, ophthalmic
  • No extensive metabolism
  • Excretion: mostly urine
CYP: cytochrome P450 Cytochrome P450 A superfamily of hundreds of closely related hemeproteins found throughout the phylogenetic spectrum, from animals, plants, fungi, to bacteria. They include numerous complex monooxygenases (mixed function oxygenases). In animals, these p450 enzymes serve two major functions: (1) biosynthesis of steroids, fatty acids, and bile acids; (2) metabolism of endogenous and a wide variety of exogenous substrates, such as toxins and drugs (biotransformation). They are classified, according to their sequence similarities rather than functions, into cyp gene families (>40% homology) and subfamilies (>59% homology). For example, enzymes from the cyp1, cyp2, and cyp3 gene families are responsible for most drug metabolism. Drug-induced Liver Injury

Indications

  • Allergic rhinitis Allergic rhinitis An inflammation of the nasal mucosa triggered by allergens. Rhinitis
  • Allergic conjunctivitis Allergic Conjunctivitis Conjunctivitis 
  • Urticaria Urticaria Urticaria is raised, well-circumscribed areas (wheals) of edema (swelling) and erythema (redness) involving the dermis and epidermis with associated pruritus (itch). Urticaria is not a single disease but rather is a reaction pattern representing cutaneous mast cell degranulation. Urticaria (Hives)
  • Anaphylaxis Anaphylaxis An acute hypersensitivity reaction due to exposure to a previously encountered antigen. The reaction may include rapidly progressing urticaria, respiratory distress, vascular collapse, systemic shock, and death. Type I Hypersensitivity Reaction (2nd-line treatment)
  • Diphenhydramine: also used to treat drug-induced extrapyramidal symptoms Extrapyramidal Symptoms Ataxia-telangiectasia
  • Meclizine: motion sickness, acute vertigo Vertigo Vertigo is defined as the perceived sensation of rotational motion while remaining still. A very common complaint in primary care and the ER, vertigo is more frequently experienced by women and its prevalence increases with age. Vertigo is classified into peripheral or central based on its etiology. Vertigo
  • Promethazine: nausea Nausea An unpleasant sensation in the stomach usually accompanied by the urge to vomit. Common causes are early pregnancy, sea and motion sickness, emotional stress, intense pain, food poisoning, and various enteroviruses. Antiemetics, vomiting Vomiting The forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth. Hypokalemia (acute)

Adverse effects and contraindications Contraindications A condition or factor associated with a recipient that makes the use of a drug, procedure, or physical agent improper or inadvisable. Contraindications may be absolute (life threatening) or relative (higher risk of complications in which benefits may outweigh risks). Noninvasive Ventilation

  • Adverse effects:
    • Sedation (1st generation)
    • Antimuscarinic effects (1st generation):
      • Dryness of mouth and respiratory passages
      • Urinary retention Urinary retention Inability to empty the urinary bladder with voiding (urination). Delirium
      • Constipation Constipation Constipation is common and may be due to a variety of causes. Constipation is generally defined as bowel movement frequency < 3 times per week. Patients who are constipated often strain to pass hard stools. The condition is classified as primary (also known as idiopathic or functional constipation) or secondary, and as acute or chronic. Constipation
      • Tachycardia Tachycardia Abnormally rapid heartbeat, usually with a heart rate above 100 beats per minute for adults. Tachycardia accompanied by disturbance in the cardiac depolarization (cardiac arrhythmia) is called tachyarrhythmia. Sepsis in Children
      • Skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Skin: Structure and Functions flushing
    • Loss of appetite, nausea Nausea An unpleasant sensation in the stomach usually accompanied by the urge to vomit. Common causes are early pregnancy, sea and motion sickness, emotional stress, intense pain, food poisoning, and various enteroviruses. Antiemetics, vomiting Vomiting The forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth. Hypokalemia
  • Contraindication: hypersensitivity to the drug or its components
  • Avoid the use of sedatives with other medications that cause drowsiness.

H2 Antagonists

Medications

  • Histamine (along with gastrin Gastrin A family of gastrointestinal peptide hormones that excite the secretion of gastric juice. They may also occur in the central nervous system where they are presumed to be neurotransmitters. Gastrointestinal Secretions, acetylcholine Acetylcholine A neurotransmitter found at neuromuscular junctions, autonomic ganglia, parasympathetic effector junctions, a subset of sympathetic effector junctions, and at many sites in the central nervous system. Receptors and Neurotransmitters of the CNS) stimulates gastric parietal cells Parietal cells Rounded or pyramidal cells of the gastric glands. They secrete hydrochloric acid and produce gastric intrinsic factor, a glycoprotein that binds vitamin B12. Stomach: Anatomy to secrete acid.
  • H2 antagonists (blockers) interfere with pathways of gastric acid Gastric acid Hydrochloric acid present in gastric juice. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) production and secretion Secretion Coagulation Studies.
  • Drugs in this class:
    • Cimetidine
    • Famotidine
    • Nizatidine
    • Ranitidine (withdrawn from the market due to presence of a contaminant, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA))

Chemistry and pharmacodynamics Pharmacodynamics Pharmacodynamics is the science that studies the biochemical and physiologic effects of a drug and its organ-specific mechanism of action, including effects on the cellular level. Pharmacokinetics is “what the body does to the drug,” whereas pharmacodynamics is “what the drug does to the body.” Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics

  • Drugs are modified histamine molecules with bulkier side chains.
  • Mechanism of action:
    • Reversible binding to histamine H2 receptors Receptors Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors located on gastric parietal cells Parietal cells Rounded or pyramidal cells of the gastric glands. They secrete hydrochloric acid and produce gastric intrinsic factor, a glycoprotein that binds vitamin B12. Stomach: Anatomy
    • Highly selective (other histamine receptors Receptors Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors generally unaffected)
Chemical structures of histamine and cimetidine

Chemical structures of histamine and cimetidine

Image: “Skeletal formula of histamine” by Vaccinationist. License: Public Domain
Image: “Cimetidine structural formula” by Jü. License: Public Domain

Pharmacokinetics Pharmacokinetics Pharmacokinetics is the science that analyzes how the human body interacts with a drug. Pharmacokinetics examines how the drug is absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and excreted by the body. Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics

Table: Pharmacokinetics Pharmacokinetics Pharmacokinetics is the science that analyzes how the human body interacts with a drug. Pharmacokinetics examines how the drug is absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and excreted by the body. Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of H2 antagonists
Drug Pharmacokinetics Pharmacokinetics Pharmacokinetics is the science that analyzes how the human body interacts with a drug. Pharmacokinetics examines how the drug is absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and excreted by the body. Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics
Cimetidine
Famotidine
  • Oral, IV
  • Incomplete absorption Absorption Absorption involves the uptake of nutrient molecules and their transfer from the lumen of the GI tract across the enterocytes and into the interstitial space, where they can be taken up in the venous or lymphatic circulation. Digestion and Absorption (oral)
  • Minimal 1st-pass metabolism
  • Excretion: urine
Nizatidine

Indications

  • Gastric and duodenal ulcers
  • GERD GERD Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when the stomach acid frequently flows back into the esophagus. This backwash (acid reflux) can irritate the lining of the esophagus, causing symptoms such as retrosternal burning pain (heartburn). Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Heartburn Heartburn Substernal pain or burning sensation, usually associated with regurgitation of gastric juice into the esophagus. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Adverse effects and contraindications Contraindications A condition or factor associated with a recipient that makes the use of a drug, procedure, or physical agent improper or inadvisable. Contraindications may be absolute (life threatening) or relative (higher risk of complications in which benefits may outweigh risks). Noninvasive Ventilation

  • Adverse effects:
    • Headache Headache The symptom of pain in the cranial region. It may be an isolated benign occurrence or manifestation of a wide variety of headache disorders. Brain Abscess, dizziness Dizziness An imprecise term which may refer to a sense of spatial disorientation, motion of the environment, or lightheadedness. Lateral Medullary Syndrome (Wallenberg Syndrome)
    • Confusion
    • Diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea, abdominal pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways
    • Prolonged use: B12 deficiency
    • Cimetidine: gynecomastia Gynecomastia Gynecomastia is a benign proliferation of male breast glandular ductal tissue, usually bilateral, caused by increased estrogen activity, decreased testosterone activity, or medications. The condition is common and physiological in neonates, adolescent boys, and elderly men. Gynecomastia (antiandrogen effect)
  • Contraindications Contraindications A condition or factor associated with a recipient that makes the use of a drug, procedure, or physical agent improper or inadvisable. Contraindications may be absolute (life threatening) or relative (higher risk of complications in which benefits may outweigh risks). Noninvasive Ventilation: hypersensitivity to the drug or its components

Comparison of Antihistamines

Table: Antihistamines
Medication Mechanism of action Indication
1st-generation H1 antagonists (sedating)
  • Competitive antagonists of H1 receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors
  • 1st generation: able to block muscarinic receptors Receptors Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors
  • Allergic rhinitis Allergic rhinitis An inflammation of the nasal mucosa triggered by allergens. Rhinitis
  • Allergic conjunctivitis Allergic Conjunctivitis Conjunctivitis
  • Urticaria Urticaria Urticaria is raised, well-circumscribed areas (wheals) of edema (swelling) and erythema (redness) involving the dermis and epidermis with associated pruritus (itch). Urticaria is not a single disease but rather is a reaction pattern representing cutaneous mast cell degranulation. Urticaria (Hives)
  • Anaphylaxis Anaphylaxis An acute hypersensitivity reaction due to exposure to a previously encountered antigen. The reaction may include rapidly progressing urticaria, respiratory distress, vascular collapse, systemic shock, and death. Type I Hypersensitivity Reaction
  • Others:
    • Drug-induced extrapyramidal symptoms Extrapyramidal Symptoms Ataxia-telangiectasia
    • Motion sickness, acute vertigo Vertigo Vertigo is defined as the perceived sensation of rotational motion while remaining still. A very common complaint in primary care and the ER, vertigo is more frequently experienced by women and its prevalence increases with age. Vertigo is classified into peripheral or central based on its etiology. Vertigo
    • Nausea Nausea An unpleasant sensation in the stomach usually accompanied by the urge to vomit. Common causes are early pregnancy, sea and motion sickness, emotional stress, intense pain, food poisoning, and various enteroviruses. Antiemetics, vomiting Vomiting The forcible expulsion of the contents of the stomach through the mouth. Hypokalemia
2nd-generation H1 antagonists
H2 antagonists (blockers) Antagonists of H2 receptors Receptors Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors located on gastric parietal cells Parietal cells Rounded or pyramidal cells of the gastric glands. They secrete hydrochloric acid and produce gastric intrinsic factor, a glycoprotein that binds vitamin B12. Stomach: Anatomy
  • Gastric and duodenal ulcers
  • GERD GERD Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when the stomach acid frequently flows back into the esophagus. This backwash (acid reflux) can irritate the lining of the esophagus, causing symptoms such as retrosternal burning pain (heartburn). Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Heartburn Heartburn Substernal pain or burning sensation, usually associated with regurgitation of gastric juice into the esophagus. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

References

  1. McQuaid, K.R. (2021). Drugs used in the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases. In Katzung, B.G., Vanderah, T.W. (Eds.), Basic & Clinical Pharmacology, 15e. McGraw Hill. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=2988&sectionid=250604938
  2. Skidgel, R.A. (2017). Histamine, bradykinin, and their antagonists. In Brunton, L.L., Hilal-Dandan, R., Knollmann, B.C. (Eds.), Goodman & Gilman’s: The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 13e. McGraw Hill. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=2189&sectionid=172480964
  3. Stringer, J.L. (Ed.) (2017). Histamine and antihistamines. In Basic Concepts in Pharmacology: What You Need to Know for Each Drug Class, 5e. McGraw Hill. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=2147&sectionid=161352490
  4. Stringer, J.L. (Ed.) (2017). Drugs that affect the GI tract. In Basic Concepts in Pharmacology: What You Need to Know for Each Drug Class, 5e. McGraw Hill. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=2147&sectionid=161352543

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