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Mastocytosis and adverse reactions to biogenic amines and histamine-releasing foods: what is the evidence?

BACKGROUND: It has been suggested that normal concentrations of biogenic amines and 'histamine-releasing foods' may exacerbate symptoms in mastocytosis. The purpose of this study was to look for scientific evidence in the literature on diets restricted in biogenic amines and histamine-releasing foods in the treatment of mastocytosis.

METHODS: Medline (1966 to 2004), Cinahl (1982 to 2004) and the Cochraine Library were searched for double-blind placebo-controlled food challenge (DBPCFC) studies with biogenic amines and/or histamine-releasing foods in mastocytosis.

RESULTS: No studies employing DBPCFC with dietary biogenic amines or histamine-releasing foods in mastocytosis were found. Only a few in vitro studies in other diseases, animal studies and studies in humans in which histamine-releasing agents were incubated directly with duodenal tissues were found. One case was reported of severe adverse reactions to alcohol in mastocytosis, objectified by an open challenge.

CONCLUSION: Despite the widespread belief that biogenic amines and histamine-releasing foods may cause allergy-like, non-IgE-mediated symptoms in certain patients, the role of diets restricted in biogenic amines and histamine-releasing foods in the treatment of mastosytosis remains hypothetical but worthy of further investigation. There is some evidence for adverse reactions to alcohol in mastocytosis.

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