+1 Recommend
0 collections
      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: found
      Is Open Access

      How Gastrin-Releasing Peptide Opens the Spinal Gate for Itch

      Read this article at

          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.


          Spinal transmission of pruritoceptive (itch) signals requires transneuronal signaling by gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) produced by a subpopulation of dorsal horn excitatory interneurons. These neurons also express the glutamatergic marker vGluT2, raising the question of why glutamate alone is insufficient for spinal itch relay. Using optogenetics together with slice electrophysiology and mouse behavior, we demonstrate that baseline synaptic coupling between GRP and GRP receptor (GRPR) neurons is too weak for suprathreshold excitation. Only when we mimicked the endogenous firing of GRP neurons and stimulated them repetitively to fire bursts of action potentials did GRPR neurons depolarize progressively and become excitable by GRP neurons. GRPR but not glutamate receptor antagonism prevented this action. Provoking itch-like behavior by optogenetic activation of spinal GRP neurons required similar stimulation paradigms. These results establish a spinal gating mechanism for itch that requires sustained repetitive activity of presynaptic GRP neurons and postsynaptic GRP signaling to drive GRPR neuron output.

          Graphical Abstract


          • Spinal itch relay requires effective communication from GRP to GRP receptor neurons

          • Single action potentials in GRP neurons fail to release sufficient GRP

          • Only burst firing releases enough GRP to prime GRP receptor neurons for activation

          • GRP acts as a volume transmitter probably explaining why itch is hard to localize


          Pagani et al. investigated the temporal and spatial signature of GRP signaling, a key element of spinal itch relay. They find that GRP signals build up slowly and rather diffusely during stimulation, possibly explaining why itch is difficult to localize.

          Related collections

          Most cited references 53

          • Record: found
          • Abstract: found
          • Article: not found

          Neuropeptide transmission in brain circuits.

          Neuropeptides are found in many mammalian CNS neurons where they play key roles in modulating neuronal activity. In contrast to amino acid transmitter release at the synapse, neuropeptide release is not restricted to the synaptic specialization, and after release, a neuropeptide may diffuse some distance to exert its action through a G protein-coupled receptor. Some neuropeptides such as hypocretin/orexin are synthesized only in single regions of the brain, and the neurons releasing these peptides probably have similar functional roles. Other peptides such as neuropeptide Y (NPY) are synthesized throughout the brain, and neurons that synthesize the peptide in one region have no anatomical or functional connection with NPY neurons in other brain regions. Here, I review converging data revealing a complex interaction between slow-acting neuromodulator peptides and fast-acting amino acid transmitters in the control of energy homeostasis, drug addiction, mood and motivation, sleep-wake states, and neuroendocrine regulation. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
            • Record: found
            • Abstract: found
            • Article: not found

            A subpopulation of nociceptors specifically linked to itch

             Liang Han,  Chao Ma,  Qin Liu (2012)
            Itch-specific neurons have been sought for decades. The existence of such neurons is in doubt recently due to the observation that itch-mediating neurons also respond to painful stimuli. Here, we genetically labeled and manipulated MrgprA3+ neurons in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and found that they exclusively innervate the epidermis of the skin and respond to multiple pruritogens. Ablation of MrgprA3+ neurons led to significant reductions in scratching evoked by multiple pruritogens and occurring spontaneously under chronic itch conditions whereas pain sensitivity remained intact. Importantly, mice with TRPV1 exclusively expressed in MrgprA3+ neurons exhibited only itch- and not pain behavior in response to capsaicin. Although MrgprA3+ neurons are sensitive to noxious heat, activation of TRPV1 in these neurons by noxious heat did not alter pain behavior. These data suggest that MrgprA3 defines a specific subpopulation of DRG neurons mediating itch. Our study opens new avenues for studying itch and developing anti-pruritic therapies.
              • Record: found
              • Abstract: found
              • Article: not found

              The cells and circuitry for itch responses in mice.

              Itch is triggered by somatosensory neurons expressing the ion channel TRPV1 (transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1), but the mechanisms underlying this nociceptive response remain poorly understood. Here, we show that the neuropeptide natriuretic polypeptide b (Nppb) is expressed in a subset of TRPV1 neurons and found that Nppb(-/-) mice selectively lose almost all behavioral responses to itch-inducing agents. Nppb triggered potent scratching when injected intrathecally in wild-type and Nppb(-/-) mice, showing that this neuropeptide evokes itch when released from somatosensory neurons. Itch responses were blocked by toxin-mediated ablation of Nppb-receptor-expressing cells, but a second neuropeptide, gastrin-releasing peptide, still induced strong responses in the toxin-treated animals. Thus, our results define the primary pruriceptive neurons, characterize Nppb as an itch-selective neuropeptide, and reveal the next two stages of this dedicated neuronal pathway.

                Author and article information

                Cell Press
                03 July 2019
                03 July 2019
                : 103
                : 1
                : 102-117.e5
                [1 ]Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
                [2 ]Neuroscience Center Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
                [3 ]Drug Discovery Network Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
                [4 ]Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, Vladimir-Prelog-Weg 1-5/10, 8090 Zurich, Switzerland
                Author notes
                []Corresponding author zeilhofer@ 123456pharma.uzh.ch

                Lead Contact

                © 2019 The Author(s)

                This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).



                Comment on this article