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Papers of the Week

Papers: 21 Oct 2023 - 27 Oct 2023

2023 Oct 21

Eur J Pharmacol


Xanthotoxol relieves itch in mice via suppressing spinal GRP/GRPR signaling.


Gao X, Yang Y, Zhu J, Zhang Y, Wang C, Wang Z, Mi W, Du L


Although pruritus, commonly known as itch, is a common and debilitating symptom associated with various skin conditions, there is a lack of effective therapies available. Xanthotoxol (XAN), a biologically active linear furocoumarin, shows potential in the treatment of various neurological disorders. In this study, we discovered that administering XAN either through intraperitoneal or intrathecal injections effectively reduced scratching behavior induced by compound 48/80 or chloroquine (CQ). Importantly, XAN also substantially alleviates chronic itch in dry skin and allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) mice. Substantial progress has highlighted the crucial role of gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP)-gastrin-releasing peptide receptor (GRPR) signaling in the dorsal spinal cord in transmitting various types of itch. Our behavior tests revealed that XAN significantly alleviated scratching behaviors induced by intrathecal administration of GRP or GRPR agonist bombesin. Furthermore, XAN reduced the activation of neurons in the spinal cord caused by intrathecal administration of GRP in mice. Moreover, XAN attenuates the activation of spinal GRPR-positive neurons in itchy mice. These findings suggest that XAN mitigates itch in mice by suppressing spinal GRP/GRPR signaling, thereby establishing XAN as a promising therapeutic option for treating pruritus.