Itching for an answer

2013

Challenge

Despite the universality of itching, scientists do not have a full understanding of what triggers or maintains the sensation. How do itch sensory neurons transmit signals to the spinal cord? And how is an itch distinguished from other sensory qualities, such as temperature or pain?

Advance

IRP researchers Mark A. Hoon, Ph.D., and Santosh K. Mishra, Ph.D., demonstrated that a single neuropeptide transmitter, Nppb, located in a specific subset of neurons, is the primary mechanism by which itch responses are elicited in mice.

Impact

The team’s discovery opens doors to a wider molecular understanding of how itch sensations originate and are processed, which could lead to more targeted treatments for conditions associated with chronic itching, such as eczema and psoriasis.

Publications

Hoon MA, Mishra SK. (2013). The Cells and Circuitry of Itch Responses in Mice. Science. 340(6135), 968-71.