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Spinal Inhibitory Ptf1a-Derived Neurons Prevent Self-Generated Itch

Escalante, A;Klein, R;

Chronic itch represents an incapacitating burden on patients suffering from a spectrum of diseases. Despite recent advances in our understanding of the cells and circuits implicated in the processing of itch information, chronic itch often presents itself without an apparent cause. Here, we identify a spinal subpopulation of inhibitory neurons defined by the expression of Ptf1a, involved in gating mechanosensory information self-generated during movement. These neurons receive tactile and motor input and establish presynaptic inhibitory contacts on mechanosensory afferents. Loss of Ptf1a neurons leads to increased hairy skin sensitivity and chronic itch, partially mediated by the classic itch pathway involving gastrin-releasing peptide receptor (GRPR) spinal neurons. Conversely, chemogenetic activation of GRPR neurons elicits itch, which is suppressed by concomitant activation of Ptf1a neurons. These findings shed light on the circuit mechanisms implicated in chronic itch and open novel targets for therapy developments.