Pharmacology of Itch

  • Alan Cowan
  • Gil Yosipovitch

Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 226)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. Elke Weisshaar, Wolfgang U. Eckart, Jeffrey D. Bernhard
    Pages 1-14
  3. Brittany Leader, Christopher W. Carr, Suephy C. Chen
    Pages 15-38
  4. Martin Schmelz
    Pages 39-55
  5. Qin Liu, Xinzhong Dong
    Pages 71-88
  6. Balázs I. Tóth, Arpad Szallasi, Tamás Bíró
    Pages 89-133
  7. Sarah Taves, Ru-Rong Ji
    Pages 135-150
  8. Santosh K. Mishra, Mark A. Hoon
    Pages 151-162
  9. Eoin R. Storan, Susan M. O’Gorman, Ian D. McDonald, Martin Steinhoff
    Pages 163-176
  10. Jamie Schwendinger-Schreck, Sarah R. Wilson, Diana M. Bautista
    Pages 177-190
  11. Lindsey M. Snyder, Sarah E. Ross
    Pages 191-206
  12. Tasuku Akiyama, Ethan A. Lerner, E. Carstens
    Pages 219-235
  13. Sonja Ständer, Thomas A. Luger
    Pages 237-255
  14. Robin L. Thurmond, Kayvan Kazerouni, Sandra R. Chaplan, Andrew J. Greenspan
    Pages 257-290
  15. Alan Cowan, George B. Kehner, Saadet Inan
    Pages 291-314
  16. Tabi Anika Leslie, Malcolm W. Greaves, Gil Yosipovitch
    Pages 337-356
  17. Thierry Olivry, Wolfgang Bäumer
    Pages 357-369
  18. Back Matter
    Pages 371-382

About this book


Basic research on the pharmacology of itch has exploded in the wake of two very influential papers that were published in Nature (2007) and Science (2009). Long overlooked as a milder form of pain, itching has rapidly gained a new appreciation in both research and clinical communities because of its complexity and its negative effects on the quality of life of the distressed patients. Like pain, not all itches are the same. Unlike pain, there are no standard drugs equivalent to aspirin and morphine. Epidemiological studies emphasize the high incidence and economic costs of itch (pruritus). It is the most prevalent symptom of a wide variety of allergic and inflammatory skin conditions (e.g., psoriasis, atopic dermatitis), is associated with several systemic diseases (e.g., chronic kidney and liver disease), and occurs in patients undergoing hemodialysis, spinal administration of opioids, and in those suffering from AIDS. The reader will learn about the multiple pathways for itch and their interactions with pain. The relationship between these closely related, yet distinct sensory phenomena, will be emphasized. Both itch and pain use several common molecules to send signals to the brain. Thus, drugs that have been, and are being, developed as analgesics may also attenuate intractable itch. This has been an exciting and very necessary turn of events since traditional H-1 receptor antagonists are ineffective in blocking the pruritus associated with kidney failure and cholestasis. The clinical chapters will provide insights into contemporary treatment regimens for pruritus in different human scenarios.


chronic itch itch and pain itch models itch suppression new antipruritics

Editors and affiliations

  • Alan Cowan
    • 1
  • Gil Yosipovitch
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology Center for Substance Abuse ResearchTemple University School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of DermatologyTemple University School of MedicinePhiladephiaUSA

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