Content » Vol 93, Issue 4

Investigative Report

Mechano-insensitive Nociceptors are Sufficient to Induce Histamine-induced Itch

Marcus Schley, Roman Rukwied, James Blunk, Christian Menzer, Christoph Konrad, Martin Dusch, Martin Schmelz, Justus Benrath
DOI: 10.2340/00015555-1513


The nerve fibres underlying histamine-induced itch have not been fully elucidated. We blocked the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve and mapped the skin area unresponsive to mechanical stimulation, but still sensitive to electrically induced pain. Nerve block induced significantly larger anaesthetic areas to mechanical (100 mN pin-prick, 402±61 cm2; brush, 393±63 cm2) and heat pain stimuli (401±53 cm2) compared with electrical stimulation (352±62 cm2, p<0.05), whereas the anaesthetic area tested with 260 mN (374±57 cm2) did not differ significantly. Histamine was applied by iontophoresis (7.5 mC) at skin sites in which mechanical sensitivity was blocked, but electrical stimulation was still perceived 30 min after the nerve block (n=9). In these areas iontophoresis of histamine provoked itching in 8/9 subjects with a mean maximum of 4.6±1 (on an 11-point rating scale). Histamine-induced itch can thus be perceived at skin sites where input from mechano-sensitive polymodal nociceptors is blocked. In conclusion, input from mechano-insensitive nociceptors is sufficient to generate histamine-induced itch.


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