Differential itch- and pain-related behavioral responses and μ-opioid modulation in mice

Tasuku Akiyama, Mirela Iodi Carstens, Earl Carstens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Intradermal microinjection of the pruritogen histamine, or the algogen capsaicin, in the mouse cheek differentially elicits mainly hindlimb scratching or ipsilateral forelimb wiping, respectively. We investigated the dose-dependency of these responses elicited by various pruritogens and algogens, and μ-opioid modulation. Histamine, 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) and agonists of protease-activated receptors PAR-2 and PAR-4, all elicited dose-related hindlimb scratching bouts with little forelimb wiping. In contrast, capsaicin, allyl isothiocyanate and bradykinin elicited dose-related forelimb wiping with little scratching. Morphine reduced capsaicin-evoked wiping but not pruritogen-evoked scratching. The μ-antagonist naltrexone decreased pruritogen-evoked scratching but not capsaicin-evoked wiping. A cowhage spicule inserted intradermal elicited equivalent scratching and wiping, while inactivated cowhage spicules loaded with histamine or capsaicin elicited significantly more scratching or wiping, respectively. The mouse cheek injection model appears to be a useful behavioral test that distinguishes between itch and pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-581
Number of pages7
JournalActa Dermato-Venereologica
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2010


  • Algogen
  • Itch
  • Mouse
  • Pain
  • Pruritogen
  • Scratch
  • Wipe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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