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Papers of the Week

Papers: 13 Jul 2019 - 19 Jul 2019

Animal Studies


2019 Jul 16

Cell Rep



Editor's Pick

Spinal Neuropeptide Y1 Receptor-Expressing Neurons Form an Essential Excitatory Pathway for Mechanical Itch.


Acton D, Ren X, Di Costanzo S, Dalet A, Bourane S, Bertocchi I, Eva C, Goulding M
Cell Rep. 2019 Jul 16; 28(3):625-639.e6.
PMID: 31315043.


Acute itch can be generated by either chemical or mechanical stimuli, which activate separate pathways in the periphery and spinal cord. While substantial progress has been made in mapping the transmission pathway for chemical itch, the central pathway for mechanical itch remains obscure. Using complementary genetic and pharmacological manipulations, we show that excitatory neurons marked by the expression of the neuropeptide Y1 receptor (Y1 neurons) form an essential pathway in the dorsal spinal cord for the transmission of mechanical but not chemical itch. Ablating or silencing the Y1 neurons abrogates mechanical itch, while chemogenetic activation induces scratching. Moreover, using Y1 conditional knockout mice, we demonstrate that endogenous neuropeptide Y (NPY) acts via dorsal-horn Y1-expressing neurons to suppress light punctate touch and mechanical itch stimuli. NPY-Y1 signaling thus regulates the transmission of innocuous tactile information by establishing biologically relevant thresholds for touch discrimination and mechanical itch reflexes.