An update on mechanisms of pruritus and their potential treatment in primary cutaneous T-cell lymphoma

Man Hu, Jörg Scheffel, Daniel Elieh-Ali-Komi, Marcus Maurer, Tomasz Hawro*, Martin Metz*

*Corresponding author for this work


Primary cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCL), which include mycosis fungoides (MF) and Sézary syndrome (SS), are a group of lymphoproliferative disorders characterized by clonal accumulation of neoplastic T-lymphocytes in the skin. Severe pruritus, one of the most common and distressing symptoms in primary CTCL, can significantly impair emotional well-being, physical functioning, and interpersonal relationships, thus greatly reducing quality of life. Unfortunately, effectively managing pruritus remains challenging in CTCL patients as the underlying mechanisms are, as of yet, not fully understood. Previous studies investigating the mechanisms of itch in CTCL have identified several mediators and their corresponding antagonists used for treatment. However, a comprehensive overview of the mediators and receptors contributing to pruritus in primary CTCL is lacking in the current literature. Here, we summarize and review the mediators and receptors that may contribute to pruritus in primary CTCL to explore the mechanisms of CTCL pruritus and identify effective therapeutic targets using the PubMed and Web of Science databases. Studies were included if they described itch mediators and receptors in MF and SS. Overall, the available data suggest that proteases (mainly tryptase), and neuropeptides (particularly Substance P) may be of greatest interest. At the receptor level, cytokine receptors, MRGPRs, and TRP channels are most likely important. Future drug development efforts should concentrate on targeting these mediators and receptors for the treatment of CTCL pruritus.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical and Experimental Medicine
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)4177-4197
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 12.2023

Research Areas and Centers

  • Research Area: Luebeck Integrated Oncology Network (LION)
  • Centers: University Cancer Center Schleswig-Holstein (UCCSH)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 205-19 Dermatology
  • 205-14 Haematology, Oncology

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