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Br J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;165(2):277-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2011.10347.x.

Evaluation of epidermal nerve density and opioid receptor levels in psoriatic itch.

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1
Department of Dermatology, Juntendo University Urayasu Hospital, 2-1-1 Tomioka, Urayasu, Chiba 279-0021, Japan.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Psoriasis is a complex, multifactorial inflammatory skin disease with genetic and environmental interactions. Patients with psoriasis exhibit erythematous plaques with itch, but the mechanisms of psoriatic itch are poorly understood.

OBJECTIVES:

This study was performed to investigate epidermal nerve density and opioid receptor levels in psoriatic skin with or without itch.

METHODS:

Twenty-four patients with psoriasis aged between 39 and 82 years were included in this study. The number of epidermal nerve fibres, the levels of semaphorin 3A (Sema3A) and the expression patterns of μ- and κ-opioid systems were examined immunohistologically in skin biopsies from psoriatic patients with or without itch and healthy volunteers as controls.

RESULTS:

The number of epidermal nerve fibres tended to increase in approximately 40% of psoriatic patients with itch compared with healthy controls, while such intraepidermal nerves were not observed in other itchy patients. In comparison with healthy controls, Sema3A levels also tended to decrease in the epidermis of psoriatic patients with itch. However, no relationship was found between nerve density and Sema3A levels in the epidermis of psoriatic patients with itch. The levels of μ-opioid receptor and β-endorphin in the epidermis were the same in healthy controls and psoriatic patients with or without itch. The levels of κ-opioid receptor and dynorphin A were significantly decreased in the epidermis of psoriatic patients with itch compared with healthy controls.

CONCLUSIONS:

Based on Sema3A levels in the epidermis, epidermal opioid systems, rather than hyperinnervation, may be involved in the pathogenesis of psoriatic itch.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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