Berbamine Reduces Chloroquine-Induced Itch in Mice through Inhibition of MrgprX1

Kunhi Ryu, Yunkyung Heo, Yechan Lee, Hyejin Jeon, Wan Namkung

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Chloroquine (CQ) is an antimalaria drug that has been widely used for decades. However, CQ-induced pruritus remains one of the major obstacles in CQ treatment for uncomplicated malaria. Recent studies have revealed that MrgprX1 plays an essential role in CQ-induced itch. To date, a few MrgprX1 antagonists have been discovered, but they are clinically unavailable or lack selectivity. Here, a cell-based high-throughput screening was performed to identify novel antagonists of MrgprX1, and the screening of 2543 compounds revealed two novel MrgprX1 inhibitors, berbamine and closantel. Notably, berbamine potently inhibited CQ-mediated MrgprX1 activation (IC50 = 1.6 μM) but did not alter the activity of other pruritogenic GPCRs. In addition, berbamine suppressed the CQ-mediated phosphorylation of ERK1/2. Interestingly, CQ-induced pruritus was significantly reduced by berbamine in a dose-dependent manner, but berbamine had no effect on histamine-induced, protease-activated receptors 2-activating peptide-induced, and deoxycholic acid-induced itch in mice. These results suggest that berbamine is a novel, potent, and selective antagonist of MrgprX1 and may be a potential drug candidate for the development of therapeutic agents to treat CQ-induced pruritus.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14321
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Nov

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a grant from National Research Foundation of Republic of Korea (NRF-2018R1A6A1A03023718).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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