The present proposal is a revised renewal of our RO1 grant investigating itch mechanisms, and is highly appropriate for the funding opportunity, PA-12-131, to improve translational and basic research to control itch in humans. Skin disease affects upwards of one-third of the US population at any given time and imposes a huge economic burden. Chronic itch frequently accompanies skin and systemic diseases, and is associated with scratching which can cause a vicious itch-scratch cycle that reduces the quality of life. Most types of chronic itch are poorly treated, establishing a compelling need to address the basis of chronic itch in order to develop more effective mechanisms-based treatments for this major medical and socioeconomic problem. During the funding period we developed models of itch using scratching behavior as a readout to investigate underlying neural mechanisms. The present proposal builds on these results, focusing on the poorly understood issue of descending modulation of itch.
Specific Aim 1 uses an optogenetic approach to selectively transduce channelrhodopsin in noradrenergic neurons in the locus coeruleus/subcoeruleus of dbh-cre mice, and serotonergic neurons in the rostral ventromedial medulla of fev-cre mice. We will investigate the effects of optic activation of these brain areas on nocifensive (thermal paw withdrawal) and pruritogen-evoked scratching behaviors. We hypothesize that pain and itch behaviors are under opposing descending modulatory effects.
Specific Aims 2 and 3 will use complementary electrophysiological methods to investigate brainstem mechanisms of descending modulation of spinal itch transmission. We will investigate how removal of descending influences from the brain affects the activity of spinal itch-signaling neurons. We will also investigate how conditions of acute itch or pain affect ON- and OFF-neurons in the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM) that are thought to respectively facilitate or inhibit spinal nociceptive transmission (Specific Aim 2). We will also investigate spinal and supraspinal mechanisms by which scratching the skin inhibits itch (Specific Aim 3). These studies are expected to provide novel information regarding how descending pathways from the brain can modulate itch transmission. The results of this project have important translational significance for the development of new, mechanisms-based treatments for itch by enhancing inhibition and reducing facilitation of itch transmission.

Public Health Relevance

Chronic itch represents a significant health and socioeconomic burden, prompting the recently- announced funding initiative to improve translational and basic research to control itch in humans (PA- 12-131). The present proposal will use preclinical rodent models to investigate the brainstem mechanisms and pharmacology of descending modulation of itch. A better understanding of the descending pathways from the brainstem that modulate spinal itch transmission has translational significance for the mechanisms-based development of more effective treatments for chronic itch.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01AR057194-08
Application #
9326909
Study Section
Arthritis, Connective Tissue and Skin Study Section (ACTS)
Program Officer
Tseng, Hung H
Project Start
2009-04-01
Project End
2020-06-30
Budget Start
2017-09-01
Budget End
2018-06-30
Support Year
8
Fiscal Year
2017
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
University of California Davis
Department
Type
Schools of Medicine
DUNS #
047120084
City
Davis
State
CA
Country
United States
Zip Code
95618
Akiyama, T; Nagamine, M; Davoodi, A et al. (2017) Innocuous warming enhances peripheral serotonergic itch signaling and evokes enhanced responses in serotonin-responsive dorsal horn neurons in the mouse. J Neurophysiol 117:251-259
Carstens, E (2016) Many parallels between itch and pain research. Eur J Pain 20:5-7
Akiyama, Tasuku; Ivanov, Margaret; Nagamine, Masaki et al. (2016) Involvement of TRPV4 in Serotonin-Evoked Scratching. J Invest Dermatol 136:154-60
Akiyama, Tasuku; Curtis, Eric; Nguyen, Tony et al. (2016) Anatomical evidence of pruriceptive trigeminothalamic and trigeminoparabrachial projection neurons in mice. J Comp Neurol 524:244-56
Carstens, Earl; Akiyama, Tasuku (2016) Central Mechanisms of Itch. Curr Probl Dermatol 50:11-7
Akiyama, Tasuku; Lerner, Ethan A; Carstens, E (2015) Protease-activated receptors and itch. Handb Exp Pharmacol 226:219-35
Klein, A H; Trannyguen, Minh; Joe, Christopher L et al. (2015) Thermosensitive transient receptor potential (TRP) channel agonists and their role in mechanical, thermal and nociceptive sensations as assessed using animal models. Chemosens Percept 8:96-108
Akiyama, Tasuku; Nguyen, Tony; Curtis, Eric et al. (2015) A central role for spinal dorsal horn neurons that express neurokinin-1 receptors in chronic itch. Pain 156:1240-6
Akiyama, Tasuku; Ivanov, Margaret; Nagamine, Masaki et al. (2015) Involvement of TRPV4 in serotonin-evoked scratching. J Invest Dermatol :
Akiyama, T; Nagamine, M; Davoodi, A et al. (2015) Intradermal endothelin-1 excites bombesin-responsive superficial dorsal horn neurons in the mouse. J Neurophysiol 114:2528-34

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