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J Vet Med Sci. 2005 Sep;67(9):915-9.

Expression of nerve growth factor in itchy skins of atopic NC/NgaTnd mice.

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Laboratory of Veterinary Molecular Pathology and Therapeutics, Division of Animal Life Science, Graduate School, Institute of Symbiotic Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan.


Although the possible involvement of neurotrophic factors in itchy skins of atopic dermatitis has been predicted, the exact mechanism by which itch is induced remains unclear. Since nerve growth factor (NGF) has crucial effects on development and functions of sensory nerves, we determined production of NGF and extension of nerve fibers in skins of NC/NgaTnd mice with or without atopic dermatitis. NC/NgaTnd mice spontaneously develop atopic dermatitis-like skin lesions when they are raised in air-unregulated conventional circumstances. We quantified scratching behavior of NC/NgaTnd mice during the development of dermatitis using a novel analytical system and compared to clinical skin severity scores. A significant correlation between the severity of dermatitis and the increase in the number of scratches was identified, indicating that scratching behavior may associate with clinical skin conditions. NGF contents in the skin lesions of conventional NC/NgaTnd mice were significantly higher than those in SPF mice. Positive reactions for NGF were observed in keratinocytes and fibroblasts in affected skins of conventional NC/NgaTnd mice. Immunohistochemical analysis showed the extension of protein gene product 9.5-positive nerve fibers from the dermis toward the epidermis at the skin lesions. These results suggest that sensory nerves induced by NGF may contribute to development of itch, and that NGF produced at the affected site may provide abnormal skin sensitivity in atopic dermatitis.

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