An excitatory neuron subset in the spinal dorsal horn (SDH) that expresses gastrin-releasing peptide receptors (GRPR) is critical for pruriceptive transmission. Here, we show that glutamatergic excitatory inputs onto GRPR+ neurons are facilitated in mouse models of chronic itch. In these models, neuronal pentraxin 2 (NPTX2), an activity-dependent immediate early gene product, is upregulated in the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Electron microscopy reveals that NPTX2 is present at presynaptic terminals connected onto postsynaptic GRPR+ neurons. NPTX2-knockout prevents the facilitation of synaptic inputs to GRPR+ neurons, and repetitive scratching behavior. DRG-specific NPTX2 expression rescues the impaired behavioral phenotype in NPTX2-knockout mice. Moreover, ectopic expression of a dominant-negative form of NPTX2 in DRG neurons reduces chronic itch-like behavior in mice. Our findings indicate that the upregulation of NPTX2 expression in DRG neurons contributes to the facilitation of glutamatergic inputs onto GRPR+ neurons under chronic itch-like conditions, providing a potential therapeutic target.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)