Neurochemical characterization of pERK-expressing spinal neurons in histamine-induced itch

Guan-Yu Jiang, Meng-Han Dai, Kun Huang, Guo-Dong Chai, Jia-Yin Chen, Ling Chen, Bing Lang, Qing-Xiu Wang, David St Clair, Colin McCaig, Yu-Qiang Ding*, Ling Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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Acute itch is divided into histamine- and non-histamine-dependent subtypes, and our previous study has shown that activation of ERK signaling in the spinal dorsal horn (SDH) is required selectively for histamine-induced itch sensation. Morphological characteristics of pERK-expressing neurons are required for exploring the mechanism underlying spinal itch sensation. To investigate whether pERK-expressing neurons are supraspinally-projecting neurons, we injected Fluorogold (FG) into the ventrobasal thalamic complex (VB) and parabrachial region, the two major spinal ascending sites in rodents. A small number (1%) of pERK-positive neurons were labeled by FG, suggesting that histamine-induced activation of ERK is primarily located in local SDH neurons. We then examined the co-localization of pERK with Calbindin and Lmx1b, which are expressed by excitatory neurons, and found that more than half (58%) of pERK-positive neurons expressed Lmx1b, but no co-expression with Calbindin was observed. On the other hand, approximately 7% of pERK-positive neurons expressed GAD67, and 27% of them contained Pax2. These results support the idea that pERK-expressing neurons serve as a component of local neuronal circuits for processing itch sensation in the spinal cord.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12787
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date7 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

Date of Acceptance: 08/07/2015

This work was supported by grants from the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2012CB966904, 2011CB51005), National Natural Science Foundation of China (31271182, 81200692, 91232724, 81200933, 81101026), Shanghai Natural Science Foundation (12ZR1434300), Key Specialty Construction Project of Pudong Health Bureau of Shanghai (PWZz2013-17), Shenzhen Key Laboratory for Molecular Biology of Neural Development (ZDSY20120617112838879), Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (1500219072) and Sino-UK Higher Education Research Partnership for PhD Studies.


  • gastrin-releasing-peptide
  • receptor-like immunoreactivity
  • spinothalamic-tract neurons
  • lamina-I projection
  • substance-P
  • cord
  • rat
  • interneurons
  • cells
  • mouse


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