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Papers of the Week

Papers: 9 Mar 2024 - 15 Mar 2024

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology, Neuroimaging

Acute Pain, Inflammation/Inflammatory, Itch

2024 Mar 08

Commun Biol




Orexin neurons play contrasting roles in itch and pain neural processing via projecting to the periaqueductal gray.


Kaneko T, Oura A, Imai Y, Kusumoto-Yoshida I, Kanekura T, Okuno H, Kuwaki T, Kashiwadani H


Pain and itch are recognized as antagonistically regulated sensations; pain suppresses itch, whilst pain inhibition enhances itch. The neural mechanisms at the central nervous system (CNS) underlying these pain-itch interactions still need to be explored. Here, we revealed the contrasting role of orexin-producing neurons (ORX neurons) in the lateral hypothalamus (LH), which suppresses pain while enhancing itch neural processing, by applying optogenetics to the acute pruritus and pain model. We also revealed that the circuit of ORX neurons from LH to periaqueductal gray regions served in the contrasting modulation of itch and pain processing using optogenetic terminal inhibition techniques. Additionally, by using an atopic dermatitis model, we confirmed the involvement of ORX neurons in regulating chronic itch processing, which could lead to a novel therapeutic target for persistent pruritus in clinical settings. Our findings provide new insight into the mechanism of antagonistic regulation between pain and itch in the CNS.