The neurobiology of itch

Akihiko Ikoma, Martin Steinhoff, Sonja Ständer, Gil Yosipovitch, Martin Schmelz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

665 Scopus citations


The neurobiology of itch, which is formally known as pruritus, and its interaction with pain have been illustrated by the complexity of specific mediators, itch-related neuronal pathways and the central processing of itch. Scratch-induced pain can abolish itch, and analgesic opioids can generate itch, which indicates an antagonistic interaction. However, recent data suggest that there is a broad overlap between pain- and itch-related peripheral mediators and/or receptors, and there are astonishingly similar mechanisms of neuronal sensitization in the PNS and the CNS. The antagonistic interaction between pain and itch is already exploited in pruritus therapy, and current research concentrates on the identification of common targets for future analgesic and antipruritic therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-547
Number of pages13
JournalNature Reviews Neuroscience
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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