There have been many exciting recent advances in our understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of itch. These discoveries cover diverse aspects of itch sensation, from the identification of new receptors to the characterization of spinal cord itch circuits. A common thread of these studies is that they demonstrate that itch sensory signals are segregated from input for other somatosensory modalities, such as pain, touch, and thermosensation. This specificity is achieved by the expression of dedicated receptors and transmitters in a select population of sensory neurons which detect pruritogens. Further, recent studies show that itch specificity is maintained in a spinal cord circuit by the utilization of specific neurotransmitters and cognate receptors to convey input along a distinct cellular pathway.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.