The density of peripheral nerve fibres is increased in atopic dermatitis. Moreover, reduction in the fibres in a mouse model of atopic dermatitis reduces scratching behaviour. Thus, regulation of nerve fibre extension could be an effective strategy to reduce itching in pruritus dermatosis. In this study, we established a new coculture system of keratinocytes and dorsal-root-ganglion-derived cells using an apparatus, AXIS™, which consists of two different channels connected via a set of microgrooves, through which signalling molecules and axons, but not living cells, can pass. When we seeded keratinocytes in one chamber, extension of nerve fibres was observed from dorsal root ganglion cells seeded in the other chamber. Addition of anti-BDNF antibody in the keratinocyte-seeded chamber significantly reduced the extension. Application of Semaphorin 3A also reduced the extension by approximately 50%. We suggest that this coculture system may be useful for screening of anti-itching drugs.
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