Center for the Study of Itch

The Center for the Study of Itch seeks to understand the fundamental underlying mechanisms of itch and translate these findings into treatments for patients suffering from intractable itch.

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Center for the Study of Itch

The Center for the Study of Itch seeks to understand the fundamental underlying mechanisms of itch and translate these findings into treatments for patients suffering from intractable itch.

Learn more 


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CSI News

New research explains why scratching makes you itch more

In a new study published in Neuron, Dr. Zhou-Feng Chen’s team explains why scratching may make you itch more.  Although the purpose of scratching is to produce pain to inhibit itch, the brain, when sensing pain signal, produces more serotonin to control pain.  Unexpectedly, Chen’s team found that serotonin also activates itch receptor called GRPR in the spinal cord to enhance itch transmission, resulting in more urge to scratch harder to inhibit itch; However, more serotonin release, while resulting in…

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New study uncovers a novel mechanism that maintains histaminergic itch.

In a new study, Chen’s lab has identified NMBR as a novel itch receptor for mediating histaminergic itch in the spinal cord.  Using a combination of pharmacological, behavioral and genetic approaches, the study delineates the respective roles for GRPR and NMBR in itch transmission.   The study reveals that NMB, an endogenous ligand for NMBR, exclusively activates NMBR, and additionally acts as a functional antagonist for GRPR.   In contrast, GRP, a cognate ligand for GRPR, activates both GRPR and NMBR in…

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Welcome Dr. Brian Kim, a new faculty, to join the CSI

We’re excited to announce that Brian Kim is joining CSI as an assistant professor and a physician scientist, starting from July 1, 2014. Dr. Brian Kim received his B.S. in Chemistry from Haverford College in 2001 and his M.D. from the University of Washington School of Medicine in 2007. He trained under Dr. Stephen Katz in the National Cancer Institute from 2004-2006. In 2008, he entered his residency in dermatology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of…

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New York Times Features Innovative Research at CSI

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Drs. Zhou-Feng Chen and Lynn Cornelius, talk about chronic itch as an unmet need and the clinical implication of the discovery of an itch-specific receptor called GRPR.

Read The New York Time article "Itching: more than deep-skin".

 

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A new study questions the existence of the BNP-NPRA-GRP-GRPR dedicated neuronal pathway for itch

A new study from Dr. Zhou-Feng Chen's laboratory shows that the BNP-NPRA signaling does not function upstream of the GRP-GRPR pathway. A NIH team recently proposed that B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) but not GRP functions in pruriceptors, and BNP-NPRA acts upstream of the GRP-GRPR signaling pathway dedicated to itch (Reports, Science, May 24, 2013).  Chen's team provides comprehensive evidence supporting the notion that GRP is indeed an itch-specific peptide in pruriceptors. By contrast, BNP protein appears to be expressed in…

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Recent Publications

Activation of MrgC receptor inhibits N-type calcium channels in small-diameter primary sensory neurons in mice.

Li Z, He SQ, Xu Q, Yang F, Tiwari V, Liu Q, et al. Pain. 2014: S0304-3959(14)00228-0. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2014.05.008. [Epub ahead of print] 

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Cross-Inhibition of NMBR and GRPR Signaling Maintains Normal Histaminergic Itch Transmission.

Zhao ZQ, Wan L, Liu XY, Huo FQ, Li H, Barry DM, Krieger S, Kim S, Liu ZC, Xu J, Rogers BE, Li YQ, Chen ZF. J Neurosci. 2014 Sep 10;34(37):12402-14. 

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Basophils Promote Innate Lymphoid Cell Responses in Inflamed Skin.

Kim BS, Wang K, Siracusa MC, Saenz SA, Brestoff JR, Monticelli LA, Noti M, Tait Wojno ED, Fung TC, Kubo M, Artis D.  Basophils Promote Innate Lymphoid Cell Responses in Inflamed Skin. J Immunol. 2014 Aug 25. pii: 1401307. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:25156365 

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Regulation of the dynamic chromatin architecture of the Epidermal Differentiation Complex is mediated by a c-Jun/AP-1-modulated enhancer during skin development.

Oh, I.Y., Albea, D.M., Goodwin, Z.A., Quiggle, A.M., Baker, B.P., Guggisberg, A.M., Kroner, G.M., de Guzman Strong, C. (2014) Regulation of the dynamic chromatin architecture of the Epidermal Differentiation Complex is mediated by a c-Jun/AP-1-modulated enhancer during skin development. (J Invest Dermatol., epub ahead of print). PMID: 24468747.

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B-type natriuretic peptide is neither itch-specific nor functions upstream of the GRP-GRPR signaling pathway

Liu XY, Wan L, Huo FQ, Barry DM, Li H, Zhao ZQ and Chen ZF. Mol Pain. 2014; 10:4

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Retinoids activate the irritant receptor TRPV1 and produce sensory hypersensitivity.

Yin S*, Luo J*, Qian A, Du J, Yang Q, Zhou S, Yu W, Du G, Clark RB, Walters ET, Carlton SM, and Hu H (2013). Retinoids activate the irritant receptor TRPV1 and produce sensory hypersensitivity. J Clin Invest 123: 3941-3951. PMID: 23925292

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Chronic itch development in sensory neurons requires BRAF signaling pathways

Zhao ZQ*, Huo FQ*, Jeffry J, Hampton L, Demehri S, Kim S, Liu XY, Barry DM, Wan L, Liu ZC, Li H, Turkoz A, Ma K, Cornelius LA, Kopan R, Battey, JF Jr., Zhong J and Chen ZF. (*equal contribution) . J Clin Invest. 2013; 123(11):4769–4780

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