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Papers of the Week

Papers: 13 Mar 2021 - 19 Mar 2021

Animal Studies


2021 Mar 16

Mol Brain



α-adrenaline receptors in dorsal horn inhibitory neurons have an inhibitory role in the regulation of chloroquine-induced itch in mice.


Shiraishi Y, Koga K, Yamagata R, Hatada I, Shiratori-Hayashi M, Tsuda M
Mol Brain. 2021 Mar 16; 14(1):55.
PMID: 33726812.


Our previous study showed the intrinsic ability of descending noradrenergic neurons projecting from the locus coeruleus to the spinal dorsal horn (SDH) to suppress itch-related behaviors. Noradrenaline and α-adrenaline receptor (α-AR) agonist increase inhibitory synaptic inputs onto SDH interneurons expressing gastrin-releasing peptide receptors, which are essential for itch transmission. However, the contribution of α-ARs expressed in SDH inhibitory interneurons to itch-related behavior remains to be determined. In this study, RNAscope in situ hybridization revealed that Adra1a mRNA is expressed in SDH inhibitory interneurons that are positive for Slc32a1 mRNA (known as vesicular GABA transporter). Mice with conditional knock-out of α-ARs in inhibitory interneurons (Vgat-Cre;Adra1a mice) exhibited an increase in scratching behavior when induced by an intradermal injection of chloroquine, but not compound 48/80, which are known as models of histamine-independent and dependent itch, respectively. Furthermore, knockout of inhibitory neuronal α-ARs in the SDH using the CRISPR-Cas9 system also increased the scratching behavior elicited by chloroquine but not compound 48/80. Our findings demonstrated for the first time that α-ARs in SDH inhibitory interneurons contribute to the regulation of itch signaling with preference for histamine-independent itch.