The Itch of Liver Disease
Itch is a complication of liver disease. It is hypothesized that this type of itch is mediated,
at least in part, by increased central opioidergic tone; a peripheral component may coexist.
The role of serotonin, bile acids, substance P, and lipophosphatidic acid and the activity of
the enzyme that generates it, autotoxin, has been proposed in the pathogenesis of itch.
Scratching activity was significantly suppressed in association with the placebo tablet in a
controlled, double-blind study; this finding supports the exploration of the placebo effect on
the itch sensation and the inclusion of behavioral methodology in clinical trials in patients
with this complication of liver disease.
Semin Cutan Med Surg 30:93-98 © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.