Gper in the Rostral Ventromedial Medulla is Essential for Mobilizing Descending Inhibition of Itch

Social Science Research Network(2020)

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Chronic itch is a troublesome condition and often difficult to cure. Emerging evidence suggests that the periaqueductal gray-rostral ventromedial medulla (PAG-RVM) pathway may play an important role in regulation of itch, but the cellular organization and molecular mechanisms remain incompletely understood. Here, we report that a group of RVM neurons distinctively express the G protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER), which mediates descending inhibition of itch. We found that GPER+ neurons in RVM were activated in chronic itch conditions in rats and mice. Selective ablation or chemogenetic suppression of RVM GPER+ neurons resulted in mechanical alloknesis and increased scratching in response to pruritogens, whereas chemogenetic activation of GPER+ neurons abrogated itch responses, indicating that GPER+ neurons are antipruritic. Moreover, GPER-deficient mice and rats of either sex exhibited hypersensitivity to mechanical and chemical itch, a phenotype reversible by μ type opioid receptor (MOR) antagonism. Additionally, significant MOR phosphorylation in the RVM was detected in chronic itch models in wild-type but not in GPER-/- rats. Therefore, GPER not only identifies a population of medullary antipruritic neurons but may also determine the descending antipruritic tone through regulating μ-opioid signaling.
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Key words
rostral ventromedial medulla,descending inhibition,itch
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