Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Living Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar

Antihistamines: Definition

  • Karthikeyan ArdhanareeswaranEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_102057-1


Receptor Antagonist Immune Cell Sexual Behavior Social Work School Psychology 
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Antihistamines are a class of drugs that inhibit histamine, a neurotransmitter involved in mood and behavior regulation, by either (a) blocking the action of histamine at the receptor, (b) competing with histamine for binding to the receptor, or (c) displacing histamine from the receptor. In the field of ASD, the majority of interest surrounds mirtazapine and cyproheptadine, both nonselective H1 receptor (histamine receptor) inverse agonists (similar to antagonist). Mirtazapine specifically shows promise in treating inappropriate sexual behaviors associated with autism. However, the mechanism of action of both these drugs in the context of ASD is likely to be through antihistamines’ off-target highly potent antagonism of α-adrenergic receptors (fight-or-flight response) and/or serotonin (mood regulation) receptors as opposed to the H1 receptor. Antihistamines may be useful in the treatment of sleeping problems associated with autism; however, evidence suggests a greater effectiveness in this regard in typically developing children.

Histamine’s more prominent role is as an inflammation mediator, increasing permeability of blood vessels to immune cells. In concordance, antihistamines are normally used in the treatment of allergies by blocking histamine-induced vasodilation and swelling. Common side effects include dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.

See Also

References and Readings

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Autism Program, Child Study CenterYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Program in Neurodevelopment and RegenerationYale School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental BiologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA