Biomol Ther.  2017 Sep;25(5):497-503. 10.4062/biomolther.2016.207.

Glucosylsphingosine Activates Serotonin Receptor 2a and 2b: Implication of a Novel Itch Signaling Pathway

  • 1College of Pharmacy, Gachon University, Incheon 21936, Republic of Korea.
  • 2Gachon Institue of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Incheon 21936, Republic of Korea.


Recent reports claimed that glucosylsphingosine (GS) is highly accumulated and specifically evoking itch-scratch responses in the skins of atopic dermatitis (AD) patients. However, it was unclear how GS can trigger itch-scratch responses, since there were no known molecular singling pathways revealed yet. In the present study, it was verified for the first time that GS can activate mouse serotonin receptor 2a (mHtr2a) and 2b (mHtr2b), but not 2c (mHtr2c) that are expressed in HEK293T cells. Specifically, effects of GS on all mouse serotonin receptor 2 subfamily were evaluated by calcium imaging techniques. The GS-induced intracellular calcium increase was dose-dependent, and antagonists such as ketanserin (Htr2a antagonist) and RS-127445 (Htr2b antagonist) significantly blocked the GS-induced responses. Moreover, the proposed GS-induced responses appear to be mediated by phospholipase C (PLC), since pretreatment of a PLC inhibitor U-73122 abolished the GS-induced responses. Additionally, the GS-induced calcium influx is probably mediated by endogenous TRPC ion channels in HEK293T cells, since pretreatment of SKF-96365, an inhibitor for TRPC, significantly suppressed GS-induced response. In conclusion, the present study revealed for the first time that GS can stimulate mHtr2a and mHtr2b to induce calcium influx, by utilizing PLC-dependent pathway afterwards. Considering that GS is regarded as a pruritogen in AD, the present study implicates a novel GS-induced itch signaling pathway.


Glucosylsphingosine; Calcium imaging; Serotonin receptor 2 subfamily; G-protein coupled receptor; Phospholipase C
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