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Development of resistance to serotonin‐induced itch in bile duct ligated mice

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Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology

Published online on


Cholestatic itch can be severe and significantly impair the quality of life of patients. The serotonin system is implicated in cholestatic itch; however, the pruritogenic properties of serotonin have not been evaluated in cholestatic mice. Here, we investigated the serotonin‐induced itch in cholestatic mice which was induced by bile duct ligation (BDL). Serotonin, sertraline or saline were administered intradermally to the rostral back area in BDL and sham operated (SHAM) mice, and the scratching behaviour was videotaped for 1 hour. Bile duct ligated mice had significantly increased scratching responses to saline injection on the seventh day after surgery. Additionally, serotonin or sertraline significantly induced scratching behaviour in BDL mice compared to saline at day 7 after surgery, while it did not induce itch at day 5. The scratching behaviour induced by serotonin or sertraline was significantly less in BDL mice compared to SHAM mice. Likewise, the locomotor activity of BDL or SHAM mice was not significantly different from unoperated (UNOP) mice on the fifth and seventh day, suggesting that the scratching behaviour was not affected by motor dysfunctions. Our data suggest that despite the potentiation of evoked itch, a resistance to serotonin‐induced itch is developed in cholestatic mice.