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Papers of the Week

Papers: 28 Oct 2023 - 3 Nov 2023

2023 Oct 26

Cell Rep




Editor's Pick

Pain and itch coding mechanisms of polymodal sensory neurons.


Guo C, Jiang H, Huang CC, Li F, Olson W, Yang W, Fleming M, Yu G, Hoekel G, Luo W, Liu Q


Pain and itch coding mechanisms in polymodal sensory neurons remain elusive. MrgprD neurons represent a major polymodal population and mediate both mechanical pain and nonhistaminergic itch. Here, we show that chemogenetic activation of MrgprD neurons elicited both pain- and itch-related behavior in a dose-dependent manner, revealing an unanticipated compatibility between pain and itch in polymodal neurons. While VGlut2-dependent glutamate release is required for both pain and itch transmission from MrgprD neurons, the neuropeptide neuromedin B (NMB) is selectively required for itch signaling. Electrophysiological recordings further demonstrated that glutamate synergizes with NMB to excite NMB-sensitive postsynaptic neurons. Ablation of these spinal neurons selectively abolished itch signals from MrgprD neurons, without affecting pain signals, suggesting a dedicated itch-processing central circuit. These findings reveal distinct neurotransmitters and neural circuit requirements for pain and itch signaling from MrgprD polymodal sensory neurons, providing new insights on coding and processing of pain and itch.