Investigating the correlation between ion channels and receptors that detect irritants, and itchy, inflammatory skin conditions

Chronic itchy, inflammatory skin conditions are common, and may significantly impair a patient’s quality of life. The pathophysiology of itch is complex, and despite recent advances in research, remains largely unknown with treatments often unable to provide adequate relief. In this pilot study, patients with itchy, inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis were recruited from the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Dermatology Outpatient Clinic (n=10), and biopsies from lesional and non-lesional sites were taken. A control group (n=7) consisted of patients presenting for excision of non-melanoma skin cancers, from whom non-lesional tissue was taken from the excised area. Protocols using immunohistochemistry and in-situ hybridisation to detect G-Protein Coupled Receptors PAR2 and TGR5, and Transient Receptor Potential Ion Channels TRPA1, TRPV1, TRPV3 and TRPV4 were developed and utilised. Analysis of samples is ongoing, however preliminary results suggest we may show a significant difference in the levels of expression of a number of these ion channels and receptors between lesional and non-lesional samples. By contributing to the growing body of research in the area, we aim to identify potential therapeutic targets for future investigation.

Dr. Katherine Darch