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Papers of the Week

2020 Jul 16

Internist (Berl)

[Therapy for chronic pruritus-light at the end of a long tunnel?]


Pereira MP, Salzmann S, Ständer S, Staubach P, Metz M
Internist (Berl). 2020 Jul 16.
PMID: 32676722.


Chronic pruritus (CP) is a highly prevalent, difficult-to-treat, and burdensome condition. Today, multiple topical and systemic therapy concepts are available for the treatment of CP. Current guidelines recommend, besides topical treatments, the use of a vast array of mostly off-label systemic drugs with different mechanisms, including antihistamines, gabapentinoids, antidepressants, immunosuppressive drugs, and μ‑opioid receptor antagonists. The choice of the right agent depends on the indication, the safety profile of the drug, and patient-specific features, such as comorbidities and comedication. Thanks to a deeper understanding of the pathophysiology of CP, novel drugs have been developed and have already shown antipruritic efficacy in clinical studies and case reports. Of note, phosphodiesterase‑4 inhibitors as topical agents and monoclonal antibodies, neurokinin‑1 receptor antagonists, Janus kinase inhibitors, and opioid receptor modulators as systemic agents are in the frontline of innovative CP treatment. Other promising targets include structures of the peripheral and central nervous system which are involved in itch signaling. This article provides an overview of currently available topical and systemic therapies for CP and their indications and discusses novel innovative agents and promising new targets in CP.