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Original Research, Animal Studies, Basic Neurobiology, Itch, Method

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Diet-Induced Mouse Model of Atopic Dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common skin disease characterized by chronic inflammation and itchiness. Although skin barrier dysfunction and immune abnormalities are thought to contribute to the development of AD, the precise pathogenic mechanism remains to be elucidated. We have developed a unique, diet-induced AD mouse model based on the findings that deficiencies of certain polyunsaturated fatty acids and starches cause AD-like symptoms in hairless mice. Here, we present a protocol and tips for establishing an AD mouse model using a custom diet modified from a widely used standard diet (AIN-76A Rodent Diet). We also describe methods for evaluating skin barrier dysfunction and analyzing itch-related scratching behavior. This model can be used not only to investigate the complex pathogenic mechanism of human AD but also to study the puzzling relationship between nutrition and AD development.

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Cheek Injection Model for Simultaneous Measurement of Pain and Itch-related Behaviors.

Itch was defined as "an unpleasant cutaneous sensation that provokes a desire to scratch" by Rothman in 1941. In mouse models, scratch bouts are typically counted to evaluate itch induced by pruritogens. However, previous reports have shown that algesic substances also induce scratching behaviors in a mouse neck injection model, which is the most common test used for scratching behaviors. This finding makes it difficult to study itch in mice.  In contrast, capsaicin, a common algogen, reduced scratching behaviors in some neck injection experiments. Therefore, the effect of pain on scratching behaviors remains unclear. It is thus necessary to develop a method to concurrently investigate itch and pain sensation using behavioral tests. Here, a cheek injection model is introduced which can be used to simultaneously measure pain- and itch-related behaviors. In this model, pruritogens induce scratching behaviors while algesic substances induce wiping behaviors. Using this model, lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), an itch mediator found in cholestatic patients with itch, is shown to exclusively induce itch but not pain. However, in mouse models, LPA has been reported to be both a pruritogen and an algogen. Investigation into the effects of LPA in a mouse cheek injection model showed that LPA only induced scratching, but not wiping behaviors. This indicates that LPA acts as a pruritogen similarly in mice and humans, and demonstrates the utility of a cheek injection model for itch research.

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