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Papers of the Week

Papers: 29 Apr 2023 - 5 May 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Itch, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 May 03

Nat Commun




Editor's Pick

Central medial thalamic nucleus dynamically participates in acute itch sensation and chronic itch-induced anxiety-like behavior in male mice.


Li JN, Wu XM, Zhao LJ, Sun HX, Hong J, Wu FL, Chen SH, Chen T, Li H, Dong YL, Li YQ


Itch is an annoying sensation consisting of both sensory and emotional components. It is known to involve the parabrachial nucleus (PBN), but the following transmission nodes remain elusive. The present study identified that the PBN-central medial thalamic nucleus (CM)-medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) pathway is essential for itch signal transmission at the supraspinal level in male mice. Chemogenetic inhibition of the CM-mPFC pathway attenuates scratching behavior or chronic itch-related affective responses. CM input to mPFC pyramidal neurons is enhanced in acute and chronic itch models. Specifically chronic itch stimuli also alter mPFC interneuron involvement, resulting in enhanced feedforward inhibition and a distorted excitatory/inhibitory balance in mPFC pyramidal neurons. The present work underscores CM as a transmit node of the itch signal in the thalamus, which is dynamically engaged in both the sensory and affective dimensions of itch with different stimulus salience.