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Acta Derm Venereol. 2017 Feb 8;97(2):198-207. doi: 10.2340/00015555-2502.

A Test-Retest Reliability Study of Human Experimental Models of Histaminergic and Non-histaminergic Itch.

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SMI®, Department of Health science and Technology, Faculty of Medicine, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark.


Numerous exploratory, proof-of-concept and interventional studies have used histaminergic and non-histaminergic human models of itch. However, no reliability studies for such surrogate models have been conducted. This study investigated the test-retest reliability for the response to histamine- and cowhage- (5, 15, 25 spiculae) induced itch in healthy volunteers. Cowhage spiculae were individually applied with tweezers and 1% histamine was applied with a skin prick test (SPT) lancet, both on the volar forearm. The intensity of itch was recorded on a visual analogue scale and self-reported area of itch was assessed 5 and 10 min after itch provocation. Reliability of the evoked itch (area under the curve and peak intensity) was assessed by the coefficient of variation (CV), intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC), and sample size estimation for parallel and cross-over designs. Cowhage (ICC = 0.57-0.77, CVbetween = 97%, CVwithin = 41%) and histamine: (ICC = 0.83-0.93, CVbetween = 97%, CVwithin = 20%) exhibited moderate-to-excellent intra-individual reliability and moderate inter-individual reliability for the itch intensity. For a test-retest observation period of one week, SPT-delivered histamine and application of cowhage-spiculae are reproducible human models of itch. The high inter-individual and low intra-individual variability suggests cross-over designed studies when applicable.

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