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Itch is a unique sensory experience that is encoded by genetically distinguishable neurons both in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and central nervous system (CNS) to elicit a characteristic behavioral response (scratching). Itch interacts with the other sensory modalities at multiple locations, from its initiation in a particular dermatome to its transmission to the brain where it is finally perceived. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of the molecular and neural mechanisms of itch by starting in the periphery, where itch is initiated, and discussing the circuits involved in itch processing in the CNS.

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We are all bound to become prey, predator or competitor one day. Whichever way you look at it. That is why, over time, all living beings have acquired their very own palette of defence mechanisms. Roses grow thorns. Bacteria fire toxins. Panthers run fast,...