A squirrel scratches itself (Wikicommons)Scientists had an itch they just needed to scratch: solving the ages-old mystery as to why, exactly, we scratch ourselves.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research says the answer is a mixture of commonly held beliefs along with some interesting new research.
While it’s true that irritants on the skin, such as a rash or a insect landing on us, can trigger an itch through nerve cells, the process of how we are made aware of the sensation, clinically known as “pruritus,” takes part in different parts of the body.
Testing on mice, the scientists found that a molecule released in the dorsal horn of the spine begins the biological process. The molecule, neuropeptide natriuretic polypeptide b (Nppb), then travels to the brain, creating the feeling of the itch.
In their study, the scientists were able to isolate mice without Nppb. “When we exposed the Nppb-deficient mice to several itch-inducing substances, it was amazing to watch,” said Santosh Mishra, lead author on theRead More »from Mystery of why we itch revealed by scientists