Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Histamine inhibits formation and release of phagocyte-derived reactive oxygen species, and thereby protects natural killer and T cells against oxidative damage. Thus, the addition of histamine may potentially improve the efficacy of interleukin-2 (IL-2). Two randomised phase II trials of IL-2 with or without histamine dihydrochloride (HDC) in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) were run in parallel. A total of 41 patients were included in Manchester, UK and 63 in Aarhus, Denmark. The self-administered, outpatient regimen included IL-2 as a fixed dose, 18 MIU s.c. once daily, 5 days per week for 3 weeks followed by 2 weeks rest. Histamine dihydrochloride was added twice daily, 1.0 mg s.c., concomitantly with IL-2. A maximum of four cycles were given. The Danish study showed a statistically significant 1-year survival benefit (76 vs 47%, P = 0.03), a trend towards benefit in both median survival (18.3 vs 11.4 months, P = 0.07), time to PD (4.5 vs 2.2 months, P = 0.13) and clinical benefit (CR + PR + SD) (58 vs 37%, P = 0.10) in favour of IL-2/HDC, whereas the UK study was negative for all end points. Only three patients had grade 4 toxicity; however, two were fatal. A randomised phase III trial is warranted to clarify the potential role of adding histamine to IL-2 in mRCC.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





757 - 762


Adult, Aged, Carcinoma, Renal Cell, Female, Histamine, Humans, Injections, Subcutaneous, Interleukin-2, Kidney Neoplasms, Male, Middle Aged, Oxidative Stress, Survival Analysis