Identification of an epidermal keratinocyte AMPA glutamate receptor involved in dermatopathies associated with sensory abnormalities

David Cabañero, Takeshi Irie, Marta Celorrio, Christopher Trousdale, David M. Owens, David Virley, Phillip J. Albrecht, Michael J. Caterina, Frank L. Rice, Jose A. Morón

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Epidermal keratinocytes are increasingly recognized as active participants in the sensory transduction of itch and pain, processes known to involve primary afferent glutamatergic neurons. However, the role of keratinocyte glutamate signaling in sensory functioning is not fully understood. Here, we present the observation of a-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionic acid–type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) in epidermal keratinocytes. Methods: Immunohistochemical and in situ hybridization analyses were conducted to assess the expression of AMPAR subunits in epidermal keratinocytes in mouse and human skin samples, and in organotypic cultures of human keratinocytes. In addition, reverse transcription PCR further confirmed the expression of GluA4-containing AMPAR in epidermal keratinocytes. Results: We found prominent immunolabeling for the GluA4 subunit of AMPAR in keratinocytes of glabrous and hairy skin of mouse epidermis, as well as in human epidermal keratinocytes. Reverse transcription PCR confirmed Gria4 transcript expression in epidermal mouse keratinocytes. In addition, expression of GRIA4 mRNA was confirmed in epidermal human keratinocytes by in situ hybridization. Immunohistochemical studies conducted in human skin biopsies from patients with atopic dermatitis and postherpetic neuralgia demonstrate that keratinocyte expression of GluA4 can be altered under pathological conditions. Moreover, a decrease of GluA4 expression was observed in organotypic cultures of human keratinocytes after direct application of algogenic agents. Conclusion: We provide evidence that GluA4-containing AMPARs are expressed in epidermal keratinocytes, that human pruritic and painful dermatopathologies have alterations in the keratinocyte expression levels of GluA4-containing AMPAR, and that itch- and pain-producing substances can directly regulate their production in keratinocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere573
JournalPain Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Glutamate
  • Keratinocytes
  • Pain


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