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Papers of the Week

Papers: 30 Jul 2022 - 5 Aug 2022

Animal Studies


2022 Jul 29

Sci Adv



Editor's Pick

Itch-specific neurons in the ventrolateral orbital cortex selectively modulate the itch processing.


Jiang S, Wang Y-S, Zheng X-X, Zhao S-L, Wang Y, Sun L, Chen P-H, Zhou Y, Tin C, Li H-L, Sui J-F, Wu G-Y
Sci Adv. 2022 Jul 29; 8(30):eabn4408.
PMID: 35905177.


Itch is a cutaneous sensation that is critical in driving scratching behavior. The long-standing question of whether there are specific neurons for itch modulation inside the brain remains unanswered. Here, we report a subpopulation of itch-specific neurons in the ventrolateral orbital cortex (VLO) that is distinct from the pain-related neurons. Using a Tet-Off cellular labeling system, we showed that local inhibition or activation of these itch-specific neurons in the VLO significantly suppressed or enhanced itch-induced scratching, respectively, whereas the intervention did not significantly affect pain. Conversely, suppression or activation of pain-specific neurons in the VLO significantly affected pain but not itch. Moreover, fiber photometry and immunofluorescence verified that these itch- and pain-specific neurons are distinct in their functional activity and histological location. In addition, the downstream targets of itch- and pain-specific neurons were different. Together, the present study uncovers an important subpopulation of neurons in the VLO that specifically modulates itch processing.