In this study, we investigated whether postburn itch in rats, after a full thickness burn, is correlated to the nervous reinnervation of the burn wound area. For this purpose, we determined scratching duration (expressed as second/hour) at 24 hours, 2, 4, 8, and 12 weeks postburn and combined this with immunohistochemistry for protein gene product 9.5 (PGP9.5) to identify all nerve fibers, calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP) to identify peptidergic fibers, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) for sympathetic fibers, and growth-associated protein 43 (GAP-43) for regrowing fibers. We found a modest, but highly significant, increase in scratching duration of all burn wound rats from 3 to 12 weeks postburn (maximally 63 ± 9.5 second/hour compared to sham 3.1 ± 1.4 second/hour at 9 weeks). At 24 hours postburn, all nerve fibers had disappeared from the burn area. Around 4 weeks postburn PGP 9.5- and CGRP-immunoreactive nerve fibers returned to control levels. TH- and GAP-43-IR nerve fibers, which we found to be almost completely colocalized, did not regrow. No correlation was found between scratching duration and nervous reinnervation of the skin. The present results suggest that in rat, like in human, burn wound healing will induce increased scratching, which is not correlated to the appearance of nervous reinnervation.,
Wound Repair and Regeneration
Department of Neuroscience

Saffari, T.M. (Tiam M.), Schüttenhelm, B.N, van Neck, J.W, & Holstege, J.C. (2018). Nerve reinnervation and itch behavior in a rat burn wound model. Wound Repair and Regeneration, 26(1), 16–26. doi:10.1111/wrr.12620