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Mouse model of imiquimod-induced psoriatic itch

Sakai, Kent; Sanders, Kristen M.; Youssef, Marina R.; Yanushefski, Kevin M.; Jensen, Liselotte; Yosipovitch, Gil; Akiyama, Tasuku

doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000674
Research Paper

Itch is a major indicator of psoriasis, but the underlying mechanisms behind this symptom are largely unknown. To investigate the neuronal mechanisms of psoriatic itch, we tested whether mice subjected to the imiquimod-induced psoriasis model exhibit itch-associated behaviors. Mice received daily topical applications of imiquimod to the rostral back skin for 7 days. Imiquimod-treated mice exhibited a significant increase in spontaneous scratching behavior directed to the treated area as well as touch-evoked scratching (alloknesis). To characterize this model, we measured the mRNA expression levels of pruritogens and itch-relevant receptors/channels using real-time reverse transcription PCR. The mRNA expression of MrgprA3, MrgprC11, and MrgprD decreased gradually over time in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cells. There was no significant change in the mRNA expression of TRPV1 or TRPA1 in DRG cells. TRPV4 mRNA expression was transiently increased in the DRG cells, whereas TRPM8 mRNA was significantly decreased. The mRNA expression levels of histidine decarboxylase and tryptophan hydroxylase 1, as well as the intensity of histamine and serotonin immunoreactivity, were transiently increased in the skin on day 2, returning to baseline by day 7. Histamine H1-receptor antagonists, chlorpheniramine and olopatadine, significantly inhibited spontaneous scratching on day 2, but not day 7. Neither chlorpheniramine nor olopatadine affected alloknesis on day 2 or day 7. These results may reflect the limited antipruritic effects of histamine H1-receptor antagonists on human psoriasis. The imiquimod-induced psoriasis model seems to be useful for the investigation of itch and its sensitization in psoriasis.

Mice treated with imiquimod-developed psoriasis-like dermatitis and behavioral signs of chronic itch that are insensitive to histamine H1-receptor antagonists.

aDepartment of Dermatology, Temple Itch Center, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

bDepartment of Microbiology and Immunology, Temple Autoimmunity Center, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

cDepartment of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Corresponding author. Address: Departments of Dermatology, Anatomy and Cell Biology, Temple Itch Center, Temple University, 3500 Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19140, USA. Tel.: 1-215-707-9509, fax: 1-215-707-9510. E-mail address: (T. Akiyama).

Sponsorships or competing interests that may be relevant to content are disclosed at the end of this article.

Received March 06, 2016

Received in revised form June 09, 2016

Accepted July 13, 2016

© 2016 International Association for the Study of Pain
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