Research: Evaluating the Nerve Innervation in the Skin of Itchy Mice
Awards: WESEF 2023, Participant in Westlake Science Fair (2021), Regeneron Science Talent Search 2022
Mentor: Dr. Michael Garcia
Research Location: Regeneron
The action of itch is a result of an unpleasant skin sensation that an individual experiences. This causes that individual to inflict a scratching bout on themselves with this sudden desire to scratch caused by the sensory receptors. Past research had determined that with constant scratching done by an individual can significantly thicken the dermal layer. To add on to that, there is also a higher and more prevalent expression of nerves as a result of itch conditions as well. This was evaluated with the use of mice tissue, where nerve innervation was analyzed in itchy mice compared to mice that were not itchy. This was done with the use of immunohistochemistry, which is commonly used for the detection of specific proteins, in tissue sections with the use of antibodies. Antibodies PGP9.5 and Collagen Type IV were used to visualize the nerves and localize the epidermal basement membrane, respectively. A DAPI stain was utilized to display cells within the tissue. With the use of immunofluorescence, the localization of antibodies with a fluorescent dye, it was observed that the nerves are innervated in the skin of itchy mice as the nerves extend into the dermis layer of the skin. This was clearly determined with the use of the localization of the epidermal basement membrane which helped demonstrate the nerves extending into the dermis. The DAPI stain contributed to the indication of epidermal hyperplasia which was demonstrated through the large presence of cells within the dermis. But the mice tissue that did not have an itch condition did not produce the same results. Based off these results, it was concluded that in itch conditions, the nerves do extend and innervate in comparison to non-itchy mice and their nerves for the nerves to identify the itch.
About this Scientist:
Amiyah Torres is a senior at Yonkers High School who will be attending Pace University in the fall, majoring in health science. During her time participating in a mentorship at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. for two years, she committed to thoroughly investigating the extent of itch conditions in mice with her mentor. After this amazing experience, she aspires to continue to pursue a career in the biomedical field with the hopes to become a neuroscientist.