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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Mouse connective tissue mast cell proteases tryptase and carboxypeptidase A3 play protective roles in itch induced by endothelin-1

Magnusdottir, Elin I.; Grujic, Mirjana; Bergman, Jessica; Pejler, Gunnar; Lagerstrom, Malin C.


Background Itch is an unpleasant sensation that can be debilitating, especially if it is chronic and of non-histaminergic origin, as treatment options are limited. Endothelin-1 (ET-1) is a potent endogenous vasoconstrictor that also has the ability to induce a burning, non-histaminergic pruritus when exogenously administered, by activating the endothelin A receptor (ETAR) on primary afferents. ET-1 is released endogenously by several cell-types found in the skin, including macrophages and keratinocytes. Mast cells express ET(A)Rs and can thereby be degranulated by ET-1, and mast cell proteases chymase and carboxypeptidase A3 (CPA3) are known to either generate or degrade ET-1, respectively, suggesting a role for mast cell proteases in the regulation of ET-1-induced itch. The mouse mast cell proteases (mMCPs) mMCP4 (chymase), mMCP6 (tryptase), and CPA3 are found in connective tissue type mast cells and are the closest functional homologs to human mast cell proteases, but little is known about their role in endothelin-induced itch. Methods In this study, we evaluated the effects of mast cell protease deficiency on scratching behavior induced by ET-1. To investigate this, mMCP knock-out and transgenic mice were injected intradermally with ET-1 and their scratching behavior was recorded and analyzed. Results CPA3-deficient mice and mice lacking all three proteases demonstrated highly elevated levels of scratching behavior compared with wild-type controls. A modest increase in the number of scratching bouts was also seen in mMCP6-deficient mice, while mMCP4-deficiency did not have any effect. Conclusion Altogether, these findings identify a prominent role for the mast cell proteases, in particular CPA3, in the protection against itch induced by ET-1.


Itch; Chymase; Carboxypeptidase A3; Tryptase; Mice

Published in

Journal of Neuroinflammation
2020, Volume: 17, number: 1, article number: 123
Publisher: BMC

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Immunology in the medical area

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