The review presents neuroanatomical, neurophysiological and neurochemical mechanisms of pruritus. The role of the peripheral nociceptive neurons and the central nervous system in itch development is elucidated in comparison with the known mechanisms of pain. The contribution of pruritus to a number of dermatoses and dermatitis is also presented.

About the authors

Yaroslav V Faizullin

1) Каzan State Medical University; 2) Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

1) 420012, Каzan, Butlerov street, 49; 2) Erlangen, Germany
Department of Dermatovenerology

Elena V Faizullina

Каzan State Medical University

420012, Каzan, Butlerov street, 49
Department of Dermatovenerology

Raisa R Giniatullina

University of Eastern Finland

Finland, Кuopio, Yliopistonranta 1, PL 1627, 70211


  1. Ananassoff P.G. et al. Enhancement of experimental pruritus and mechanically evoked dysesthesiae with local anesthesia // Somatosens Mot. Res. 1999. Vol. 16. P. 291-298.
  2. Andrew D., Graig A.D. Spinothalamic lamina I neurons selectively sensitive to histamine: a central neural pathway for itch // Nat. Neurosci. 2001. Vol. 4. P. 72-77.
  3. Bautista D.M., Wilson S.R., Hoon M.A. Why we scratch an itch: the molecules, cells and circuits of itch // Nat. Neurosci. 2014 Feb. Vol. 17(2). P. 175-182. doi: 10.1038/nn.3619.
  4. Choi J.C., Yzng J.H., Chanh S.E., Choi J.H. Pruritus and nerve growth factor in psoriasis // Korean journal of dermatology. 2005. Vol. 43. P. 769-773.
  5. Elmariah S.B., Lerner E.A. Topical therapies for pruritus // Semin. Cutan. Med. Surg. 2011. Vol. 30. P. 118-126.
  6. Gieler U., Niemeier V., Brosig B., Kupfer J. Psychosomatic aspects of pruritus // Dermatol Psychosom. 2002. Vol. 3. P. 6-13.
  7. Graig A.D. How do you feel? Interception: the sense of the physiological condition of the body // Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 2002. Vol. 3. P. 655-666.
  8. Gupta M.A., Gupta A.K., Kirkby S. et al. Pruritus in psoriasis. A prospective study of some psychiatric and dermatologic correlates // Arch. Dermatol. 1988. Vol. 124. P. 1052-1057.
  9. Hagermark O., Stranberg K., Hamberg M. Potentiation of itch and flare responses in human skin by prostaglandins E2 and H2 and prostaglandin endoperoxide analog // J. Invest. Dermatol. 1977. Vol. 69. P. 527-530.
  10. Hefti F.F. et al. Novel class of pain drugs based on antafonism of NGF // Trends Pharmacol sci. 2005.
  11. Heyer Gm., Ulmer F.J., Schnitz J., Hamdwerker H.O. Histamine-indices itch and alloknesis (itche skin) in atopic eczema patients and controls // Acta derm Venerol (Stockh). 1995. Vol. 75. P. 348-352.
  12. Ikoma A., Fartasch M., Heyer G. et al. Painful stimuli evoke itch in patients with chronic pruritus: central sensitization for itch // Neurology. 2004. P. 212-217.
  13. Ikoma A., Handwerker H., Miyachi Y., Schmelz M. Electrically evoked itch in humans // Pain. 2005. Vol. 113. P. 148-154.
  14. Ikoma A., Steinhoff M., Stander S. et al. The neurobiology of itch // Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 2006. Vol. 7. P. 535-547.
  15. Kidd B.L., Urban L.A. Mechanisms of inflammatory pain // Br. J. anaesth. 2001. Vol. 87. P. 3-11.
  16. Kinkelin I , Motzing S. , Koltenzenburg M., Brocker E. B. Increase in NGF content and nerve fiber sprouting in human allergic contact eczema // Cell Tissue Res. 2000. Vol. 302. P. 31-37.
  17. Kodama A., Horikawa T., Suzuki T. et al. Effect of stress on atopic dermatitis: investigation in patients after the great Hanshin earthquake // J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 1999. Vol. 104. P. 173-176.
  18. La Motte R.H., Shain C.N., Simone D.A., Tsai EFP. Neurogenic hyperalgesia psychophysical studies of underlying mechanisms // J. Neurophysiol. 1991. Vol. 66. P. 190-211.
  19. Laurent A., Bouchariat J., Bosson J.L. et al. Psychological assessment of patients with idiopathic pruritus ani // Psychother Psychosom. 1997. Vol. 66. P. 163-166.
  20. Liu Q., Sikand, P., Ma C. et al. Mechanisms of itch evoked by β-alanine // The Journal of neuroscience: the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2012. Vol. 32(42). P. 14532-14537. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3509-12.2012
  21. Liu T., Ji R.-R. Oxidative stress induces itch via activation of transient receptor potential subtype ankyrin 1 in mice // Neuroscience bulletin. 2012. Vol. 28(2). P. 145-154. doi: 10.1007/s12264-012-1207-1209.
  22. Marieb E.N., Hoehn K. Human anatomy & physiology (7th ed). San Francisco: Pearson Benjamin Cummings, 2007.
  23. McMahon S.B., Koltzenburg, M. Itching for an explanation // Trends Neurosci. 1992. Vol. 15. P. 497-501. Retrieved from
  24. Mochzuki H. et al. Imaging of central itch modulation in the human brain using positron emission tomography // Pain. 2003. Vol. 105. P. 339-346.
  25. Patel T., Yosipovitch G. Therapy of pruritus // Expert Opin. Pharmacother2010. Vol. 11. P. 1673-1682.
  26. Raus R., Schmelz M., Biro T., Steihoff M. Frontiers in pruritus research: scratching the brain for more effective itch therapy // J. Clin. Invest. 2006. Vol. 116 (5). P. 1174-1186.
  27. Ross S.E., Mardinly A.R., McCord A. E. et al. Loss of inhibitory interneurons in the dorsal spinal cord and elevated itch in Bhlhb5 mutant mice // Neuron. 2010. Vol. 65(6). P. 886-898. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.02.025.
  28. Schmelz M. A neural pathway for itch // Nat. neurosci. 2001. Vol. 4. P. 9-10.
  29. Schmidt R., Schmelz M., Ringkamp M. et al. Innervation territories of mechanically activated C nociceptor units in human skin // Journal of neurophysiology. 1997. Vol. 78(5). P. 2641-2648.
  30. Simone D.A., Alreja M., LaMotte R.G. Psychophysical studies of the itch sensation and itchy skin (‘alloknesis”) prodused by intracutaneous injection of histamine // Somatosens Mot res. 1991. Vol. 8. P. 271-279.
  31. Torebjork, Schmelz M., Handwerker H.O. Functional properties of human cutaneous nociceptors and their role in pain and hyperalgesia. In: Cervero F, Belmonte C, eds. Neurobiology of nociceptors. London, UK: Oxford University Hress, 1996. P. 349-369.
  32. Toyoda M. et al. Nerve growth factor and substance P are useful plasma markers of disease activity in atopic dermatitis // Br. J. Dermatol. 2002. Vol. 147. P. 71-79.
  33. Wilson S.R., Gerhold K.A., Bifolck-Fisher A. et al. TRPA1 is required for histamine-independent, Mas-related G protein-coupled receptor-mediated itch // Nature neuroscience. 2011. Vol. 14(5). P. 595-602. doi: 10.1038/nn.2789.
  34. Xiao B., Patapoutian, A. Scratching the surface: a role of pain-sensing TRPA1 in itch // Nature neuroscience. 2011. Vol. 14(5). P. 540-542. doi: 10.1038/nn.2813.
  35. Yosipovich G., Fast K., Bernhard J.D. Noxious heat and scratching disease histamine-induced itch and skin blood flow // J. Invest. Dermatol. 2005. Vol. 125. P. 1268-1272.
  36. Yosipivitch G., Greaves M.W., Schmelz M. Itch // Lancet. 2003. Vol. 361. P. 690-694.
  37. Yosipovich Gil, Dawn A.D., Greaves M.W. Pathophysiology and Clinical Aspects of Pruritus. In: Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine, 7th ed. [Klaus Wolff… et al]. 2008. Vol.1. P. 902-911.
  38. Yosipovitch G., Samuel, L.S. Neuropathic and psychogenic itch // Dermatologic therapy. 2008. Vol. 21(1). P. 32-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1529-8019.2008.00167.x



Abstract - 48

PDF (Russian) - 8


Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...




  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2015 Faizullin Y.V., Faizullina E.V., Giniatullina R.R.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies