Content » Vol 97, Issue 1

Clinical Report

Antipruritic Effect of Cold-induced and Transient Receptor Potential-agonist-induced Counter-irritation on Histaminergic Itch in Humans

Hjalte H. Andersen, Camilla Melholt, Sigurd D. Hilborg, Anne Jerwiarz, Amalie Randers, Amalie Simoni, Jesper Elberling, Lars Arendt-Nielsen
DOI: 10.2340/00015555-2447


A frequent empirical observation is that cold-induced counter-irritation may attenuate itch. The aim of this randomized, single-blinded, exploratory study was to evaluate the counter-irritation effects of cold-stimulation and topical application of transient receptor potential TRPA1/M8-agonists (trans-cinnamaldehyde/L-menthol, respectively), on histamine-induced itch, wheals and neurogenic inflammation in 13 healthy volunteers. Histamine 1% was applied to the volar forearms using skin prick-test lancets. Recorded outcome-parameters were itch intensity, wheal reactions, and neurogenic inflammation (measured by laser-speckle perfusion-imaging). Homotopic thermal counter-irritation was performed with 6 temperatures, ranging from 4°C to 37°C, using a 3 × 3-cm thermal stimulator. Chemical “cold-like” counter-irritation was conducted with 40% L-menthol and 10% trans-cinnamaldehyde, while 5% doxepin was used as a positive antipruritic control/comparator. Cold counter-irritation stimuli from 4°C to 22°C inhibited itch in a stimulus-intensity-dependent manner (p < 0.05) and, to a lesser extent, also wheal reactions and neurogenic inflammation. Chemical “cold-like” counter-irritation with both L-menthol and trans-cinnamaldehyde had antipruritic efficacy similar to doxepin (p < 0.05). Cold-induced counter-irritation had an inhibitory effect on histaminergic itch, suggesting that agonists of cold transduction receptors could be of potential antipruritic value.


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