Nav: Home

At odds: Less sensory neurons induce stronger sensations of itch

May 03, 2018

The irritating itchiness that affects people as they age and their skin becomes drier may be caused by the loss of Merkel cells, a new study in mice suggests. Jing Feng and colleagues were conducting an experiment featuring a well-established technique whereby light mechanical pressure induces itchiness, when they noticed that older mice scratched more often and more fervently than their younger counterparts. They suspected that Merkel cells, found within skin and which play a key role in conveying the sensation of touch, may be the culprit. (These cells demonstrate similar firing patterns to recently identified receptors in the spinal cord that were found to regulate mechanical itch.) Indeed, the researchers found that mice engineered to have fewer Merkel cells experience greater mechanically induced itch than control mice. Meanwhile, the number of Merkel cells present within skin had no effect on chemical itch or thermal pain. Since people tend to have fewer Merkel cells as they age, the authors suggest that their findings may offer an explanation for the loss of mechanical itch control that's seen under aging and also chronic itch conditions. Amanda H. Lewis and Jörg Grandl discuss these findings in a related Perspective, noting that the idea that fewer sensory neurons are associated with a strong sensation may at first seem counterintuitive; however, in those with fewer Merkel cells, the feeling of an itch may induce an animal to scratch the area and apply pressure, inducing enough activity through remaining Merkel cells and easing the unpleasant sensation. They emphasize that more research is needed to explore this phenomenon in humans.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Research Articles:


Related Research Reading:

Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches
by John W. Creswell (Author), J. David Creswell (Author)

The Craft of Research, Fourth Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)
by Wayne C. Booth (Author), Gregory G. Colomb (Author), Joseph M. Williams (Author), Joseph Bizup (Author), William T. FitzGerald (Author)

A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Eighth Edition: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)
by Kate L. Turabian (Author), Wayne C. Booth (Editor), Gregory G. Colomb (Editor), Joseph M. Williams (Editor), University of Chicago Press Staff (Editor)

Research Strategies: Finding Your Way Through the Information Fog, 5th Edition
by William Badke (Author)

Research Methodology: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners
by Ranjit Kumar (Author)

Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches
by John W. Creswell (Author)

Practical Research: Planning and Design (11th Edition)
by Paul D. Leedy (Author), Jeanne Ellis Ormrod (Author)

ReSearch: A Career Guide for Scientists
by Teresa M. Evans (Author), Natalie Lundsteen (Author), Nathan L. Vanderford (Author)

Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods
by Robert K. Yin (Author)

Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches
by John W. Creswell (Author), Cheryl N. Poth (Author)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Hacking The Law
We have a vision of justice as blind, impartial, and fair — but in reality, the law often fails those who need it most. This hour, TED speakers explore radical ways to change the legal system. Guests include lawyer and social justice advocate Robin Steinberg, animal rights lawyer Steven Wise, political activist Brett Hennig, and lawyer and social entrepreneur Vivek Maru.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#495 Earth Science in Space
Some worlds are made of sand. Some are made of water. Some are even made of salt. In science fiction and fantasy, planet can be made of whatever you want. But what does that mean for how the planets themselves work? When in doubt, throw an asteroid at it. This is a live show recorded at the 2018 Dragon Con in Atlanta Georgia. Featuring Travor Valle, Mika McKinnon, David Moscato, Scott Harris, and moderated by our own Bethany Brookshire. Note: The sound isn't as good as we'd hoped but we love the guests and the conversation and we wanted to...