2010 David F. Silbert Summer Fellowship Research


June HuJune Hu

Merkel cells are neuroendocrine cells in the basal layer of the epidermis, clustered in touch sensitive areas of skin. They are often found associated with a sensory nerve ending, and together termed the Merkel-neurite complex. It has been observed that Notch-1 deficient mice (RBPJ knockout mice) do not exhibit itch behavior even with inflamed skin characteristic of atopic dermitis, and histological sections show abnormal Merkel cells, probing questions about Merkel cell involvement in the itch response. My project will focus on immunohistochemistry of the Merkel-neurite complex and GRPR+ neurons discovered to mediate the itch response in wild type and RBPJ knockout mice. Elucidating the physiology of itch will help understand management of skin disorders accompanied by itch.