Brain's reward circuits mediate itch relief. A functional MRI study of active scratching

Alexandru D.P. Papoiu, Leigh A. Nattkemper, Kristen M. Sanders, Robert A. Kraft, Yiong Huak Chan, Robert C. Coghill, Gil Yosipovitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Previous brain imaging studies investigating the brain processing of scratching used an exogenous intervention mimicking scratching, performed not by the subjects themselves, but delivered by an investigator. In real life, scratching is a conscious, voluntary, controlled motor response to itching, which is directed to the perceived site of distress. In this study we aimed to visualize in real-time by brain imaging the core mechanisms of the itch-scratch cycle when scratching was performed by subjects themselves. Secondly, we aimed to assess the correlations between brain patterns of activation and psychophysical ratings of itch relief or pleasurability of scratching. We also compared the patterns of brain activity evoked by self-scratching vs. passive scratching. We used a robust tridimensional Arterial Spin Labeling fMRI technique that is less sensitive to motion artifacts: 3D gradient echo and spin echo (GRASE) - Propeller. Active scratching was accompanied by a higher pleasurability and induced a more pronounced deactivation of the anterior cingulate cortex and insula, in comparison with passive scratching. A significant involvement of the reward system including the ventral tegmentum of the midbrain, coupled with a mechanism deactivating the periaqueductal gray matter (PAG), suggests that itch modulation operates in reverse to the mechanism known to suppress pain. Our findings not only confirm a role for the central networks processing reward in the pleasurable aspects of scratching, but also suggest they play a role in mediating itch relief. Copyright:

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere82389
JournalPLoS One
Volume8
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 6 2013
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Reward
Brain
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
brain
Neuroimaging
Networks (circuits)
Tegmentum Mesencephali
Periaqueductal Gray
Gyrus Cinguli
Pruritus
Artifacts
Imaging techniques
Research Personnel
image analysis
Pain
Propellers
labeling techniques
Processing
pruritus
Labeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Papoiu, A. D. P., Nattkemper, L. A., Sanders, K. M., Kraft, R. A., Chan, Y. H., Coghill, R. C., & Yosipovitch, G. (2013). Brain's reward circuits mediate itch relief. A functional MRI study of active scratching. PLoS One, 8(12), [e82389]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0082389

Brain's reward circuits mediate itch relief. A functional MRI study of active scratching. / Papoiu, Alexandru D.P.; Nattkemper, Leigh A.; Sanders, Kristen M.; Kraft, Robert A.; Chan, Yiong Huak; Coghill, Robert C.; Yosipovitch, Gil.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 8, No. 12, e82389, 06.12.2013.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Papoiu, ADP, Nattkemper, LA, Sanders, KM, Kraft, RA, Chan, YH, Coghill, RC & Yosipovitch, G 2013, 'Brain's reward circuits mediate itch relief. A functional MRI study of active scratching', PLoS One, vol. 8, no. 12, e82389. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0082389
Papoiu ADP, Nattkemper LA, Sanders KM, Kraft RA, Chan YH, Coghill RC et al. Brain's reward circuits mediate itch relief. A functional MRI study of active scratching. PLoS One. 2013 Dec 6;8(12). e82389. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0082389
Papoiu, Alexandru D.P. ; Nattkemper, Leigh A. ; Sanders, Kristen M. ; Kraft, Robert A. ; Chan, Yiong Huak ; Coghill, Robert C. ; Yosipovitch, Gil. / Brain's reward circuits mediate itch relief. A functional MRI study of active scratching. In: PLoS One. 2013 ; Vol. 8, No. 12.
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