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Papers of the Week

Papers: 14 Sep 2019 - 20 Sep 2019

Animal Studies


2019 Oct 17

JCI Insight



Activation of pruritogenic TGR5, MRGPRA3, and MRGPRC11 on colon-innervating afferents induces visceral hypersensitivity.


Castro J, Harrington AM, Lieu T, Garcia-Caraballo S, Maddern J, Schober G, O'Donnell T, Grundy L, Lumsden AL, Miller PE, Ghetti A, Steinhoff MS, Poole DP, Dong X, Chang L, Bunnett NW, Brierley SM
JCI Insight. 2019 Oct 17; 4(20).
PMID: 31536477.


Itch induces scratching that removes irritants from the skin, whereas pain initiates withdrawal or avoidance of tissue damage. Whilst pain arises from both the skin and viscera, we investigated whether pruritogenic irritant mechanisms also function within visceral pathways. We show that subsets of colon-innervating sensory neurons in mice express, either individually or in combination, the pruritogenic receptors Tgr5 and the Mas-gene-related G protein-coupled receptors, Mrgpra3 and Mrgpra11. Agonists of these receptors activated subsets of colonic sensory neurons and evoked colonic afferent mechanical hypersensitivity via a TRPA1-dependent mechanism. In vivo intra-colonic administration of individual TGR5, MRGPRA3, or MRGPRC11 agonists induced pronounced visceral hypersensitivity to colorectal distension. Co-administration of these agonists as an 'itch cocktail' augmented hypersensitivity to colorectal distension and changed mouse behaviour. These irritant mechanisms were maintained and enhanced in a model of chronic visceral hypersensitivity relevant to irritable bowel syndrome. Neurons from human dorsal root ganglia also expressed TGR5 as well as the human ortholog MRGPRX1 and showed increased responsiveness to pruritogenic agonists in pathological states. These data support the existence of an irritant-sensing system in the colon that is a visceral representation of the itch pathways found in skin, thereby contributing to sensory disturbances accompanying common intestinal disorders.