Objective: Histamine H1 receptor (H1R) antagonists often have sedative side effects, which are caused by the blockade of the neural transmission of the histaminergic neurons. We examined the brain H1R occupancy (H1RO) and the subjective sleepiness of levocetirizine, a new second-generation antihistamine, comparing fexofenadine, another non-sedating antihistamine, as a negative active control. Methods: Eight healthy volunteers underwent positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with [11C]doxepin, a PET tracer that specifically binds to H1Rs, after a single oral administration of levocetirizine (5 mg), fexofenadine (60 mg) or placebo in a double-blind crossover study. Binding potential ratios and H1ROs in the cerebral cortices regions were calculated using placebo. Subjective sleepiness was assessed with the Line Analogue Rating Scale and the Stanford Sleepiness Scale. Results: There was no significant difference between the mean brain H1RO after levocetirizine administration (8.1%; 95% CI: -9.8 to 26.0%) and fexofenadine administration (-8.0%; 95% CI: -26.7 to 10.6%). Similarly, subjective sleepiness was not significantly different between the two antihistamines and placebo. Neither subjective sleepiness nor plasma concentrations was significantly correlated with the brain H1RO of the two antihistamines. Conclusion: At therapeutic dose, levocetirizine does not bind significantly to the brain H1Rs and does not induce significant sedation.
- Histamine H receptor occupancy
- Positron emission tomography
- Sedating side effect