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Papers of the Week

2022 May 23

Brain Res

Hypothalamic response with PKA/CREB signaling is associated with direct cerebroventricular administration of bombesin-induced scratching.


Zhang J, Zhou H, Li P, Shi H, Sui X, Wang Y, Shi J, Wang L
Brain Res. 2022 May 23:147950.
PMID: 35618015.


Bombesin (BN) is an itch-specific mediator that causes intense itch-scratching activity in mammals. Although most examinations of BN-induced itch processing have focused on the spinal cord, the involvement of central nervous system mechanisms remains unclear. Here, we investigated how relationships among hypothalamic regions regulate BN-mediated itch-scratch processes. We found that intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) administration of BN (0.04-4 μg) elicited intense itch scratching in mice, whereas BN (0.4-400 μg) administered via intravenous tail injection failed to evoke a scratching response. Additionally, nalfurafine had no significant effects on BN-induced scratching behavior, indicating that central modulation of BN is distinct from histamine-mediated histaminergic itch and chloroquine-mediated non-histaminergic itch signaling pathways. We labeled BN with a fluorescent tag, 7-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1 (NBD), and traced its fluorescence in the hypothalamus for 30 min following i.c.v. NBD-BN administration. Accordingly, we confirmed that i.c.v. administration of BN enhanced c-Fos expression in the dorsal medial nucleus of the hypothalamus, where neuromedin B receptors and gastrin-releasing peptide receptors are highly expressed. Interestingly, in situ injection of BN into the hypothalamus immediately and robustly induced itch-scratching behavior. Moreover, gene transcripts and western blot assay revealed that BN receptor-dependent PKA/CREB signaling was upregulated in the hypothalamus after i.c.v. administration of BN. Consistently, pretreatment with a PKA inhibitor, Rp-cAMP, significantly reduced BN-induced scratching behavior. Our results indicate that the dorsal medial nucleus of the hypothalamus may be a key nucleus in mediating BN-mediated itch and hypothalamic PKA/CREB signaling is involved in regulating BN-mediated itch.