B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) binds to its two cognate receptors NPRA and NPRC, encoded by Npr1 and Npr3, respectively, with equal potency and both are expressed in the spinal cord. Moreover, natriuretic peptides (NP) signal through the inhibitory cGMP pathway, raising the question of how BNP may transmit itch information. We report that Npr3 is highly restricted to laminae I-II of the dorsal horn, and partially overlaps with neuromedin B receptor (NMBR) that encodes histaminergic itch. Functional studies indicate that NPRC is required for itch evoked by histamine but not chloroquine (CQ), a nonhistaminergic pruritogen. Importantly, BNP significantly facilitates scratching behaviors mediated by NMB, but not gastrin releasing peptide (GRP) that encodes nonhistaminergic itch. Consistently, BNP evoked Ca2+ response in NMBR/NPRC HEK 293 cells and BNP-saporin that ablated both Npr1 and Npr3 neurons impaired histamine-, but not CQ-evoked, itch. These results reveal a previously unknown mechanism by which BNP changes its inhibitory mode of action to the facilitation of itch through a novel NPRC-NMBR cross-talk. Our studies suggest that neuropeptides encode histaminergic and nonhistaminergic itch not only through distinct modes but also in synergy.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience