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Anaesthesist. 2009 Jan;58(1):61-5. doi: 10.1007/s00101-008-1478-8.

[Opioid-induced pruritus. Mechanisms and treatment regimens].

[Article in German]

Author information

1
Institut für Anästhesiologie und Operative Intensivmedizin, Klinische Fakultät Mannheim, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Theodor-Kutzer-Ufer 1-3, 68135 Mannheim, Deutschland. martin.schmelz@anaes.ma.uni-heidelberg.de

Abstract

Substantial progress has been achieved in recent years in research on the interaction between pain and pruritus. Over and above the known inhibition of pruritus by painful stimuli (e.g. scratching), a foundation for the explanation of opioid-induced pruritus was laid through the discovery of pruritus-specific neuronal processing channels. Although traditionally the degranulating effect of opioids on mast cells was assumed to be the essential mechanism, it is now clear that opioids can also induce itching at the spinal level. Neurons of the dorsal horn of the pain system inhibit spinal itch neurons. If this inhibition is weakened by opioids, the disinhibited itch neurons become active and mediate itching, without stimulation of the primary afferent peripheral nerves. Spinal triggering of itching is observed in particular by activation of mu-opioid receptors (mu-OR), while kappa-OR surprisingly suppress itch. The therapeutic implications of this interaction will be described.

PMID:
19132330
DOI:
10.1007/s00101-008-1478-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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