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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1998 Sep;286(3):1140-5.

Substance P induction of itch-associated response mediated by cutaneous NK1 tachykinin receptors in mice.

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Department of Applied Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Research Institute for Wakan-yaku, Toyama Medical & Pharmaceutical University, Toyama, Japan.


Our experiments were conducted to determine whether substance P (SP) would elicit an itch sensation mediated by mast cells in mice. An intradermal injection of SP (10-135 microgram site-1) into the rostral back of the ICR mouse dose-dependently produced scratching of the injected site. The SP- (135 microgram site-1 = 100 nmol site-1) induced scratching was inhibited by capsaicin (repeated administration) and naloxone; features being similar to itch in humans. SP elicited scratching in mast cell-deficient (WBB6F1 W/Wv) mice as well as control (+/+) mice. Pretreatment with compound 48/80 produced similar degrees of inhibition of SP-induced scratching in mast cell-deficient mice as well as control +/+ and ICR mice. Intradermal injections of the NK1 receptor agonist GR73632 produced dose-dependent scratching, while the NK2 agonist GR64349 and the NK3 agonist senktide were without effects. SP-induced scratching was inhibited by the NK1 receptor antagonists spantide and L-668,169, but not by the NK2 antagonist L-659,877. The results suggest that scratching of the mouse induced by an i.d. injection of SP is itch-associated response. The SP action may be mediated at least partly by cutaneous NK1 receptors, and mast cells may not be key factors in SP-induced itching.

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