Opioid Receptors in Psoriatic Skin: Relationship with Itch
Piotr Kupczyk, Adam Reich, Marcin Hołysz, Mariusz Gajda, Edyta Wysokińska, Anna Kobuszewska, Dmitry Nevozhay, Beata Nowakowska, Leon Strzadała, Paweł Poitr Jagodziński, Jacek C. Szepietowski
Psoriasis is an inflammatory immunogenetic skin disease, often accompanied by itch. Opioid receptors are known regulators of itch sensation in the central nervous system. In the brain, μ-opioid receptors may potentiate itch, while activation of κ-opioid receptors may reduce or even alleviate itch; however, the role of opioid receptors in itch perception in the skin is poorly understood. To further elucidate the role of opioid receptors in the neurobiology of psoriatic itch, punch biopsies of non-lesional and lesional skin of patients with psoriasis and healthy controls were studied. Real-time polymerase chain reaction and immunofluorescence microscopy were used to detect opioid receptor genes and protein expression, respectively. The OPRK1/κ-opioid receptor pathway was found to be downregulated in lesional skin of psoriasis, correlating positively with itch sensation. In contrast, the OPRM1/μ-opioid receptor system was uniformly expressed by epidermal keratinocytes in all analysed groups. These findings suggest that imbalance of epidermal opioid receptors may result in disordered neuroepidermal homeostasis in psoriasis, which could potentiate transmission of itch.