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Histamine-induced itch and its relationship with pain

Won-Sik Shim1 and Uhtaek Oh2*

Author Affiliations

1 National Research Laboratory of Transporters Targeted Drug Design, Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University, Seoul, 151-742, Korea

2 Sensory Research Center, College of Pharmacy, Seoul National University, Seoul, 151-742, Korea

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Molecular Pain 2008, 4:29  doi:10.1186/1744-8069-4-29

Published: 31 July 2008


Itch is one of the major complications of skin diseases. Although there are various substances that induce itch or pruritus, it is evident that histamine is the best known endogenous agent that evokes itch. Even though histamine-induced itch has been studied for some time, the underlying mechanism of itch is just beginning to emerge. Although various downstream signaling pathways of histamine receptors have been revealed, more studies are required to determine the cause of histamine-induced itch. It appears that itch and pain involve different neuronal pathways. Pain generally inhibits itch, which indicates an inter-communication between the two. Complex interactions between itch and pain may be expected based on reports on disease states and opioids. In this review, we discuss the molecular mechanism and the pharmacological aspects of histamine-induced itch. Especially, the underlying mechanism of TRPV1 (an anti-pruritus target) has been determined to some extent.