Histamine-producing bacteria and their role in gastrointestinal disorders

Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2023 Jul-Dec;17(7):709-718.doi: 10.1080/17474124.2023.2230865. Epub 2023 Jul 6.


Marcello Fiorani 1 2 3Livio Enrico Del Vecchio 1 2 3Pasquale Dargenio 1Francesco Kaitsas 1Tommaso Rozera 1 2 3Serena Porcari 1 2 3Antonio Gasbarrini 1 2 3Giovanni Cammarota 1 2 3Gianluca Ianiro 1 2 3


Author information

1Department of Translational Medicine and Surgery, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy.

2Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, UOC Gastroenterologia, Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Agostino Gemelli IRCCS, Rome, Italy.

3Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, UOC CEMAD Centro Malattie dell'Apparato Digerente, Medicina Interna e Gastroenterologia, Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Gemelli IRCCS, Rome, Italy.


Introduction: Gut microbiota produces thousands of metabolites, which have a huge impact on the host health. Specific microbial strains are able to synthesize histamine, a molecule with a crucial role in many physiologic and pathologic mechanisms of the host. This function is mediated by the histidine decarboxylase enzyme (HDC) that converts the amino acid histidine to histamine.

Areas covered: This review summarizes the emerging data on histamine production by gut microbiota, and the effect of bacterial-derived histamine in different clinical contexts, including cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, and other gastrointestinal and extraintestinal pathologies. This review will also outline the impact of histamine on the immune system and the effect of probiotics that can secrete histamine. Search methodology: we searched the literature on PubMed up to February 2023.

Expert opinion: The potential of modulating gut microbiota to influence histamine production is a promising area of research, and although our knowledge of histamine-secreting bacteria is still limited, recent advances are exploring their diagnostic and therapeutical potential. Diet, probiotics, and pharmacological treatments directed to the modulation of histamine-secreting bacteria may in the future potentially be employed in the prevention and management of several gastrointestinal and extraintestinal disorders.

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