Cellular basis of itch sensation

Yan Gang Sun, Zhong Qiu Zhao, Xiu Li Meng, Jun Yin, Xian Yu Liu, Zhou Feng Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

414 Scopus citations


Itch and pain are two distinct sensations. Although our previous study suggested that gastrin-releasing peptide receptor (GRPR) is an itch-specific gene in the spinal cord, a long-standing question of whether there are separate neuronal pathways for itch and pain remains unsettled. We selectively ablated lamina I neurons expressing GRPR in the spinal cord of mice. These mice showed profound scratching deficits in response to all of the itching (pruritogenic) stimuli tested, irrespective of their histamine dependence. In contrast, pain behaviors were unaffected. Our data also suggest that GRPR+ neurons are different from the spinothalamic tract neurons that have been the focus of the debate. Together, the present study suggests that GRPR+ neurons constitute a long-sought labeled line for itch sensation in the spinal cord.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1531-1534
Number of pages4
Issue number5947
StatePublished - 2009


Dive into the research topics of 'Cellular basis of itch sensation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this