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Papers of the Week

Papers: 21 Oct 2023 - 27 Oct 2023

2023 Oct 02



Identification of a convergent spinal neuron population that encodes itch.


Sheahan TD, Warwick CA, Cui AY, Baranger DAA, Perry VJ, Smith KM, Manalo AP, Nguyen EK, Koerber HR, Ross SE


Itch is a protective sensation that drives scratching. Although specific cell types have been proposed to underlie itch, the neural circuit basis for itch remains unclear. Here, we used two-photon Ca imaging in the dorsal horn to visualize the neuronal populations that are activated by itch-inducing agents. We identify a convergent population of spinal neurons that is defined by the expression of GRPR. Moreover, we discover that itch is conveyed to the brain via GRPR-expressing spinal output neurons that target the lateral parabrachial nucleus. Finally, we demonstrate that a subset of GRPR spinal neurons show persistent, cell-intrinsic Ca oscillations. These experiments provide the first population-level view of the spinal neurons that respond to pruritic stimuli and pinpoint the output neurons that convey itch to the brain.