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Summary

An abnormal metabolism of histamine has been suspected in urticaria and the role of diamine oxidase (DAO; histaminase) is therefore of interest. We have studied DAO activity in plasma and jejunal biopsy material and have measured the post-heparin DAO release in 11 control subjects and nine with recurrent urticaria, three of whom had had concurrent episodes of abdominal pain. Two of the nine urticaria subjects had only a minimal rise in plasma DAO activity after heparin, three had a response which was at the lower end of the normal range, and four were normal. In four out of five cases in which jejunal biopsy activity was obtained, there was concordance between mucosal DAO activity and the post-heparin plasma DAO response. Those with abdominal symptoms had abnormally low mucosal DAO activity and the subject who was most severely affected had proven episodes of small bowel oedema.