Jpn. J. Pharmacol. 86 (1), 97-105 (2001)

Roles of Mast Cells and Histamine in Mosquito Bite-Induced Allergic Itch-Associated Responses in Mice

Eiji Ohtsuka1, Sanae Kawai1, Tomohiro Ichikawa1, Hiroshi Nojima1, Kanji Kitagawa1, Yoshikazu Shirai2, Kiyoshi Kamimura2 and Yasushi Kuraishi1,*

1Department of Applied Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and 2Department of Biodefense Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, 2630 Sugitani, Toyama 930-0194, Japan

*Corresponding author. FAX: +81-76-434-5045, E-mail:

Abstract: We investigated itch-associated responses (scratching) to mosquito bites and the role of histamine and mast cells in mosquito-induced itching in mice. Although the first bites of mosquito Aedes albopictus did not increase scratching, repeated bites increased scratching. The response was not diminished even after an interval of 2 months. Similarly, repeated intradermal (i.d.) injections of salivary gland extract (SGE) from Aedes albopictus increased scratching after SGE injection itself and mosquito bites. The scratching peaked within 10 min and almost subsided by 60 min. The opioid antagonist naloxone (1 mg/kg, s.c.) inhibited scratching following SGE injection. Although the non-sedative H1-histamine-receptor antagonist terfenadine (30 mg/kg, p.o.) significantly suppressed scratching induced by histamine (100 nmol/site, i.d.) in either naive or mosquito-sensitized mice, it did not affect mosquito-induced scratching in mosquito-sensitized mice. Repeated injections of SGE increased scratching in mast cell-deficient (WBB6F1-W/Wv) mice as well as in normal (WBB6F1-+/+) littermates. Repeated exposure to mosquito bites roughly doubled serum concentrations of total IgE and IgG1, but not IgG2a. Repeated injections of SGE markedly increased plasma extravasation induced by mosquito bites and such an increase was almost completely suppressed by terfenadine (30 mg/kg, p.o.). The results show the presence of histamine-mediated and histamine-independent mechanisms in cutaneous itching and suggest that histamine probably released from mast cells does not play an important role in itching in immediate allergic reaction. Our murine model of mosquito itching may be useful for studying the mechanisms of immediate allergic itching.

Keywords: Immediate allergic itch, Mosquito bite, Itch-associated response, Mast cell, Histamine
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