Chronic pruritus is a debilitating symptom with limited treatment options. Identifying molecular targets underlying chronic pruritic dermatoses is essential for the development of novel, targeted therapies. IL-31 is an important mediator of itch by integrating dermatologic, neural, and immune systems. IL-31 helps induce and maintain chronic pruritus via both indirect stimulation of inflammatory cells and through direct neural sensitization. IL-31 is overexpressed in various chronic pruritic skin conditions, and exogenous IL-31 induces itch and scratching behavior. Studies have demonstrated that IL-31R and IL-31 antagonism significantly reduces itch in patients with atopic dermatitis and prurigo nodularis, two extremely pruritic skin conditions. Emerging evidence, including recent phase II clinical trials of IL-31R antagonists, demonstrates that IL-31 plays an important role in itch signaling. Additional studies are ongoing to evaluate IL-31R and IL-31 antagonism as treatments of chronic pruritus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)