Patients may present with a complaint of “itchiness” or an “odd sensation” that can be relieved by manual therapy treatment options, which demonstrates the relevance of transient receptor potential (TRP) channels. There are studies that identify the role of various TRP channels as modulators of the itch sensation; however, discrepancies in the literature exist with respect to the overall neural pathway of the itch sensation, musculoskeletal implications, and decisive therapeutic implications. The purpose of this study was to review the literature and rate the quality of published articles regarding the role of TRP channels in the itch sensation.Methods:
A systematic search of relevant literature that was published in English by a peer-reviewed journal between January 2000 and June 2012 was performed in PubMed. Studies that met the predetermined inclusion criteria regarding the relationship between TRP channels and itch were identified and then evaluated for methodological quality by the Downs and Black Quality Index score system and were summarized.Results:
Nine studies were identified that met the inclusion criteria, all of which had fair methodological quality from the perspective of the modified Downs and Black Quality Index. TRPA1, TRPM8, and TRPV1-4 were indicated as key channels responsible for the transmission of the itch sensation. TRPV1 channels convey histamine-dependent itch, and TRPA1 channels convey histamine-independent itch. Temperature, nerve growth factor, and substance-P were also described as important itch modulators. There are similarities between the neural pathways responsible for itch, pain, and temperature, which explain the ability of noxious temperature to suppress the desire to scratch. Although transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, innocuous vibration, and cutaneous field stimulation have demonstrated relatively weak attenuation of itch, the use of topical capsaicin, noxious heat, and noxious cold have been demonstrated as effective therapies.Conclusions:
The findings of this review show that studies have assessed the function of TRP channels and itch, rather than identifying the relationship between itch and effective noninvasive treatment options. Therefore, TRP channels could serve as important, complex clinical targets for manual therapists.