Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and pruritus: The expression of IL-31 and its receptors in the skin

Leigh A. Nattkemper, Maria Estela Martinez-Escala, Ari B. Gelman, Elisha M. Singer, Alain H. Rook, Joan Guitart, Gil Yosipovitch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Approximately 88% of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) patients are affected by pruritus that responds poorly to current antipruritic therapies. Interleukin (IL)-31, a Th2 cytokine, has been found to be increased in the serum of CTCL patients and to correlate with itch severity. This study investigated the role of IL-31 and its receptors (IL-31 receptor-alpha [IL-31RA] and OSMRβ) in the skin of CTCL patients with mild versus moderate/severe pruritus. Expression levels of IL- 31, IL-31RA, and OSMRβ in the skin were measured using immunohistochemistry and correlated to pruritus severity and disease stage. In CTCL patients with moderate/severe pruritus, IL-31 was significantly elevated in the epidermis and dermal infiltrate, while IL-31RA and OSMRβ were significantly elevated only in the epidermis. Furthermore, epidermal IL-31 levels correlated to itch severity. These results show that IL-31 may play a role in CTCL pruritus by exerting indirect effects on sensory nerves through epidermal neoplastic T cells and keratinocytes to transmit itch.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)894-898
Number of pages5
JournalActa dermato-venereologica
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • CTCL
  • IL-31
  • IL-31RA
  • OSMRβ
  • Pruritus
  • Skin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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