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Papers of the Week

Papers: 30 Apr 2022 - 6 May 2022

Animal Studies


2022 May 02

Nat Commun



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Neuronal pentraxin 2 is required for facilitating excitatory synaptic inputs onto spinal neurons involved in pruriceptive transmission in a model of chronic itch.


Kanehisa K, Koga K, Maejima S, Shiraishi Y, Asai K, Shiratori-Hayashi M, Xiao M-F, Sakamoto H, Worley PF, Tsuda M
Nat Commun. 2022 May 02; 13(1):2367.
PMID: 35501343.


An excitatory neuron subset in the spinal dorsal horn (SDH) that expresses gastrin-releasing peptide receptors (GRPR) is critical for pruriceptive transmission. Here, we show that glutamatergic excitatory inputs onto GRPR neurons are facilitated in mouse models of chronic itch. In these models, neuronal pentraxin 2 (NPTX2), an activity-dependent immediate early gene product, is upregulated in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Electron microscopy reveals that NPTX2 is present at presynaptic terminals connected onto postsynaptic GRPR neurons. NPTX2-knockout prevents the facilitation of synaptic inputs to GRPR neurons, and repetitive scratching behavior. DRG-specific NPTX2 expression rescues the impaired behavioral phenotype in NPTX2-knockout mice. Moreover, ectopic expression of a dominant-negative form of NPTX2 in DRG neurons reduces chronic itch-like behavior in mice. Our findings indicate that the upregulation of NPTX2 expression in DRG neurons contributes to the facilitation of glutamatergic inputs onto GRPR neurons under chronic itch-like conditions, providing a potential therapeutic target.