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Papers of the Week

Papers: 26 Aug 2023 - 1 Sep 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology


2023 Aug 24

Brain Res Bull


Oxytocin increases itch sensitivity of mice in late pregnancy and its peripheral receptor mechanism of itch-promoting effect.


Yang G, Wang XD, Chen LY, Wu ZY, Xi EP, Li H


Oxytocin (OXT) is secreted in a large amount during the middle and late pregnancy. Except for the regulation of functions related to childbirth, OXT is involved in the regulation of cognition, social behavior, addiction, pain and so on. Our aim is to confirm the increase of OXT content in mice in late pregnancy is the main cause of itch during pregnancy and observe whether exogenously administered OXT can induce or increase itch sensitivity. The research shows that itch sensitivity of mice increased significantly in late pregnancy and basically returned to normal one day after delivery. The number of OXT-positive neurons in paraventricular nucleus (PVN) and the content of OXT in serum of the late pregnant mice increased significantly, and decreased sharply after delivery. Intradermal injection of low concentration of OXT (0.2 nmol/L) could not induce scratching behavior in mice, but high concentration of OXT (5 nmol/L, 10 nmol/L) could do this in a dose-dependent manner. Low concentration of OXT significantly increased the itch sensitivity to histamine. Intradermal injection of oxytocin receptor (OXTR) or arginine vasopressin-1a receptor (AVPR1A) antagonist did not affect histamine-induced scratching behavior, but both reversed the increase of itch sensitivity in late pregnant mice or the facilitated itch sensitivity by OXT. Study suggests that both endogenous and exogenous increases in OXT can increase the body’s sensitivity to itch, and even induce itch directly. Pruritus during pregnancy is closely related to the increase of OXT content in vivo. In the periphery, the itch-promoting effect of OXT is mediated by OXTR and AVPR1A.