Note to users. If you're seeing this message, it means that your browser cannot find this page's style/presentation instructions -- or possibly that you are using a browser that does not support current Web standards. Find out more about why this message is appearing, and what you can do to make your experience of our site the best it can be.

Subscribe

Sci. STKE, 14 August 2007
Vol. 2007, Issue 399, p. tw289
[DOI: 10.1126/stke.3992007tw289]

EDITORS' CHOICE

Neuroscience Feeling the Itch

Elizabeth M. Adler

Science's STKE, AAAS, Washington, DC 20005, USA

The disagreeable nature of itching--defined as far back as the 17th century as an unpleasant skin sensation that elicits the urge to scratch--is apparent to anyone who has wandered into a clump of poison ivy or experienced a mosquito bite. The identity of the central mediator of this "unpleasant sensation," however, has been unclear. Sun and Chen found that, in mice, a subset of unmyelinated dorsal root ganglion neurons expressed gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) and that the GRP receptor (GRPR) was specifically localized to lamina I of the dorsal horn of the spinal cord (locations and neuron type consistent with a possible role in mediating itch perception). Mutant mice lacking the GRPR showed responses to heat and pain that were comparable to those of wild-type mice, but they displayed an attenuated scratching response to various histamine-dependent and -independent pruritogenic stimuli. Injection of a GRPR agonist into the cerebrospinal fluid of wild-type mice elicited scratching, whereas injection of a GRPR antagonist inhibited scratching in response to pruritogenic stimuli. Thus, the authors conclude that, at the level of the spinal cord, the GRPR is a mediator of an itch-specific signaling pathway--information that may provide an avenue toward the effective therapy of chronic and intractable pruritis.

Y.-G. Sun, Z.-F. Chen, A gastrin-releasing peptide receptor mediates the itch sensation in the spinal cord. Nature 448, 700-703 (2007). [PubMed]

Citation: E. M. Adler, Feeling the Itch. Sci. STKE 2007, tw289 (2007).



To Advertise     Find Products


Science Signaling. ISSN 1937-9145 (online), 1945-0877 (print). Pre-2008: Science's STKE. ISSN 1525-8882