I am a
Home I AM A Search Login

Papers of the Week

Papers: 9 Mar 2024 - 15 Mar 2024

2024 Mar 06

Curr Biol


Editor's Pick

An insular cortical circuit required for itch sensation and aversion.


Zheng J, Zhang XM, Tang W, Li Y, Wang P, Jin J, Luo Z, Fang S, Yang S, Wei Z, Song K, Huang Z, Wang Z, Zhu Z, Shi N, Xiao D, Yuan L, Shen H, Huang L, Li B


Itch encompasses both sensory and emotional dimensions, with the two dimensions reciprocally exacerbating each other. However, whether a shared neural circuit mechanism governs both dimensions remains elusive. Here, we report that the anterior insular cortex (AIC) is activated by both histamine-dependent and -independent itch stimuli. The activation of AIC elicits aversive emotion and exacerbates pruritogen-induced itch sensation and aversion. Mechanistically, AIC excitatory neurons project to the GABAergic neurons in the dorsal bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (dBNST). Manipulating the activity of the AIC → dBNST pathway affects both itch sensation and itch-induced aversion. Our study discovers the shared neural circuit (AIC → dBNST pathway) underlying the itch sensation and aversion, highlights the critical role of the AIC as a central hub for the itch processing, and provides a framework to understand the neural mechanisms underlying the sensation and emotion interaction.