Maddening Itch Of Liver Disease Comes From A Surprising Source

A paper published in the April 2nd edition of Gastroenterology has exposed a surprising cause of itching in liver disease.

Discovering that the skin is much more than a barrier, it’s actually a sensory organ.

The skin relays a signal to the nerve cells in the dorsal root ganglion, next to the spine that triggers itching.

People with severe liver disease have an excess of fat circulating in their bloodstream.  This fat triggers an itching sensation in the skin. 

The researchers were surprised that the signal formed tiny bubbles on the surface of the skin.

These bubbles are designed to gather cells and remove them. Inside the bubbles, they found microRNA that are normally gene regulators.

They identified the exact microRNA and then injected the molecule into rats, finding that it instantly triggered itching.

Furthermore, the levels of the specific microRNA correspond to the severity of itching.

Knowing the exact mechanisms that trigger the itching in advanced liver disease provides scientists with a new way to measure the progression of liver disease.