Influence of genotype, dose and sex on pruritogen-induced scratching behavior in the mouse.
Itch features considerable interindividual variability in humans, and initial studies using animal models have demonstrated a likely role of genetic factors in mediating such variability. In an attempt to systematically study genetic mediation of itch in the mouse such that gene identification by linkage mapping might be achieved, we examined scratching behavior induced by histamine and chloroquine in mice of 11 inbred mouse strains. Multiple chloroquine drug doses were used, revealing the existence of inverted-U dose-response relationships in every strain, allowing us to determine strain-dependent peak scratching behavior over the entire dose range. Peak chloroquine-induced scratching varied by 2.5-fold in this set of strains; scratching behavior shows moderate heritability in the mouse. The present data also reveal, for the first time, significant sex differences in pruritogen-induced scratching behavior, with female mice scratching an average of 23% more than males. Finally, a comparison of the strain means obtained here with previously collected data using nociceptive assays revealed a suggestive negative genetic correlation between chloroquine-induced itch and thermal pain, such that strains sensitive to pain are resistant to itch and vice versa. This finding may have implications both for our understanding of itch pathophysiology and for the identification of itch-related genes.
Green, AD; Young, KK; Lehto, SG; Smith, SB; Mogil, JS
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