Cowhage can induce itch in the atopic dog

Thierry Olivry, Petra Bizikova, Judy S. Paps, Stan Dunston, Ethan A. Lerner, Gil Yosipovitch

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Itch is a cardinal symptom of atopic dermatitis in humans and dogs. Until now, experimental induction of itch in dogs has proven difficult. The objectives of this study were to determine whether protease-rich spicules, protein extracts and the protease mucunain of the tropical legume cowhage provoked itch and inflammation when rubbed onto canine skin. Native spicules variably induced itch manifestations in about half of the dogs, while challenges with protease-deactivated spicules remained negative. The epicutaneous application of cowhage extract and mucunain after microneedle roller usage also induced pruritus and inflammation. Importantly, there was an interindividual inconsistency in pruritus and inflammation induction and also marked differences in pruritus intensity after challenge. In conclusion, cowhage spicules, protein-rich extracts and mucunain can all induce pruritus and inflammation in dogs as in other species, but the inconsistency of provocation is currently a limitation of this challenge type for future studies of pruritus in dogs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-437
Number of pages3
JournalExperimental dermatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Canine
  • Dog
  • Itch
  • Model
  • Pruritus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology


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