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Papers of the Week

Papers: 26 Aug 2023 - 1 Sep 2023


Human Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology, Pharmacology/Drug Development

Inflammation/Inflammatory, Itch, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 Aug 31

Eur J Pain


Mechanisms and treatment of opioid-induced pruritus: Peripheral and central pathways.


Okutani H, Lo Vecchio S, Arendt-Nielsen L


Pruritus (also known as itch) is defined as an unpleasant and irritating sensation of the skin that provokes an urge to scratch or rub. It is well known that opioid administration can cause pruritus, which is paradoxical as itch and pain share overlapping sensory pathways. Because opioids inhibit pain but can cause itching. Significant progress has been made to improve our understanding of the fundamental neurobiology of itch; however, much remains unknown about the mechanisms of opioid-induced pruritus. The prevention and treatment of opioid-induced pruritus remains a challenge in the field of pain management. The objective of this narrative review is to present and discuss the current body of literature and summarize the current understanding of the mechanisms underlying opioid-induced pruritus, and its relationship to analgesia, and possible treatment options.