Background: Chronic pruritus, or itch, is common and debilitating, but the neuroimmune mechanisms that drive chronic itch are only starting to be elucidated. Recent studies demonstrate that the IL-33 receptor (IL-33R) is expressed by sensory neurons. However, whether sensory neuron–restricted activity of IL-33 is necessary for chronic itch remains poorly understood. Objectives: We sought to determine if IL-33 signaling in sensory neurons is critical for the development of chronic itch in 2 divergent pruritic disease models. Methods: Plasma levels of IL-33 were assessed in patients with atopic dermatitis (AD) and chronic pruritus of unknown origin (CPUO). Mice were generated to conditionally delete IL-33R from sensory neurons. The contribution of neuronal IL-33R signaling to chronic itch development was tested in mouse models that recapitulate key pathologic features of AD and CPUO, respectively. Results: IL-33 was elevated in both AD and CPUO as well as their respective mouse models. While neuron-restricted IL-33R signaling was dispensable for itch in AD-like disease, it was required for the development of dry skin itch in a mouse model that mirrors key aspects of CPUO pathology. Conclusions: These data highlight how IL-33 may be a predominant mediator of itch in certain contexts, depending on the tissue microenvironment. Further, this study provides insight into future therapeutic strategies targeting the IL-33 pathway for chronic itch.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1473-1480.e6
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Atopic dermatitis
  • IL-33
  • chronic pruritus of unknown origin
  • dry skin
  • itch
  • neuroimmunology
  • pruriceptor
  • pruritogen


Dive into the research topics of 'IL-33 signaling in sensory neurons promotes dry skin itch'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this