Mechanisms of itch evoked by β-alanine

Qin Liu, Parul Sikand, Chao Ma, Zongxiang Tang, Liang Han, Zhe Li, Shuohao Sun, Robert H. LaMotte, Xinzhong Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


β-alanine, a popular supplement for muscle building, induces itch and tingling after consumption, but the underlying molecular and neural mechanisms are obscure. Here we show that, in mice, β-alanine elicited itch-associated behavior that requires MrgprD, a G-protein-coupled receptor expressed by a subpopulation of primary sensory neurons. These neurons exclusively innervate the skin, respond to β-alanine, heat, and mechanical noxious stimuli but do not respond to histamine. In humans, intradermally injected β-alanine induced itch but neither wheal nor flare, suggesting that the itch was not mediated by histamine. Thus, the primary sensory neurons responsive toβ-alanine are likely part of a histamine-independent itch neural circuit and a target for treating clinical itch that is unrelieved by anti-histamines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14532-14537
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 17 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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