A new study of male mice published in JNeurosci uncovers two distinct pathways through which a single molecule can cause both itchy and painful skin. The research could inform the development of drugs for a variety of skin diseases.
Diana Bautista and colleagues show that sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) — a molecule implicated in skin conditions such as psoriasis as well as other inflammatory diseases including asthma and multiple sclerosis — triggers itch in addition to its known role in pain. Their work identifies a receptor of this molecule, S1PR3, expressed in sensory neurons is responsible for these sensations. The findings suggest that blocking this receptor may represent a promising therapeutic approach for managing both pain and itch.
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Hill, R., Morita, T., Brem, R., & Bautista, D. (2018). S1PR3 mediates itch and pain via distinct TRP channel-dependent pathways. The Journal Of Neuroscience, 1266-18. doi: 10.1523/jneurosci.1266-18.2018