Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a cutaneous disorder characterized by inflamed and pruritic (itchy) skin. The proallergic cytokine thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) is produced by keratinocytes and plays a central role in the pathogenesis of AD. Whether TSLP is directly responsible for the severe itching associated with AD is unclear.

Studies were performed with mice and human cells.

TSLP-mediated neuronal signaling was assessed by using calcium imaging and electrophysiology. TSLP-inducing signaling pathways were studied in human primary epithelial cells.

The authors observed that direct injection of TSLP into the skin of mice resulted in itching behavior. TSLP-induced itching occurred in mice genetically deficient for lymphocytes or mast cells, suggesting that the pruritic properties of TSLP were independent of its effects on the immune system. Interestingly, dorsal root ganglia from humans and mice were found to express the TSLP receptor, indicating that neurons may be biologically responsive to TSLP. Indeed, treatment of...

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