PloS one

Physiological function of gastrin-releasing peptide and neuromedin B receptors in regulating itch scratching behavior in the spinal cord of mice.

PMID 23826298


Pruritus (itch) is a severe side effect associated with the use of drugs as well as hepatic and hematological disorders. Previous studies in rodents suggest that bombesin receptor subtypes i.e. receptors for gastrin-releasing peptide (GRPr) and neuromedin B (NMBr) differentially regulate itch scratching. However, to what degree spinal GRPr and NMBr regulate scratching evoked by intrathecally administered bombesin-related peptides is not known. The first aim of this study was to pharmacologically compare the dose-response curves for scratching induced by intrathecally administered bombesin-related peptides versus morphine, which is known to elicit itch in humans. The second aim was to determine if spinal GRPr and NMBr selectively or generally mediate scratching behavior. Mice received intrathecal injection of bombesin (0.01-0.3 nmol), GRP (0.01-0.3 nmol), NMB (0.1-1 nmol) or morphine (0.3-3 nmol) and were observed for one hour for scratching activity. Bombesin elicited most profound scratching over one hour followed by GRP and NMB, whereas morphine failed to evoke scratching response indicating the insensitivity of mouse models to intrathecal opioid-induced itch. Intrathecal pretreatment with GRPr antagonist RC-3095 (0.03-0.1 nmol) produced a parallel rightward shift in the dose response curve of GRP-induced scratching but not NMB-induced scratching. Similarly, PD168368 (1-3 nmol) only attenuated NMB but not GRP-induced scratching. Individual or co-administration of RC-3095 and PD168368 failed to alter bombesin-evoked scratching. A higher dose of RC-3095 (0.3 nmol) generally suppressed scratching induced by all three peptides but also compromised motor function in the rotarod test. Together, these data indicate that spinal GRPr and NMBr independently drive itch neurotransmission in mice and may not mediate bombesin-induced scratching. GRPr antagonists at functionally receptor-selective doses only block spinal GRP-elicited scratching but the suppression of scratching at higher doses is confounded by motor impairment.

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Gastrin Releasing Peptide human, ≥97% (HPLC)