Brain histamine H1 receptor occupancy measured by PET after oral administration of levocetirizine, a non-sedating antihistamine

Kotaro Hiraoka, Manabu Tashiro, Thomas Grobosch, Marcus Maurer, Keiichi Oda, Jun Toyohara, Kenji Ishii, Kiichi Ishiwata, Kazuhiko Yanai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-206
Number of pages8
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Safety
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Feb 1


  • Antihistamine
  • Histamine H receptor occupancy
  • Levocetirizine
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Sedating side effect


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