A Test-Retest Reliability Study of Human Experimental Models of Histaminergic and Non-histaminergic Itch

Hjalte H Andersen, Anne-Kathrine R Sørensen, Gebbie A R Nielsen, Marianne S Mølgaard, Pernille Stilling, Shellie A Boudreau, Jesper Elberling, Lars Arendt-Nielsen

17 Citations (Scopus)


Numerous exploratory, proof-of-concept and interventional studies have used histaminergic and non-histaminergic human models of itch. However, no reliability studies for such surrogate models have been conducted. This study investigated the test-retest reliability for the response to histamine- and cowhage- (5, 15, 25 spiculae) induced itch in healthy volunteers. Cowhage spiculae were individually applied with tweezers and 1% histamine was applied with a skin prick test (SPT) lancet, both on the volar forearm. The intensity of itch was recorded on a visual analogue scale and self-reported area of itch was assessed 5 and 10 min after itch provocation. Reliability of the evoked itch (area under the curve and peak intensity) was assessed by the coefficient of variation (CV), intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC), and sample size estimation for parallel and cross-over designs. Cowhage (ICC = 0.57-0.77, CVbetween = 97%, CVwithin = 41%) and histamine: (ICC = 0.83-0.93, CVbetween = 97%, CVwithin = 20%) exhibited moderate-to-excellent intra-individual reliability and moderate inter-individual reliability for the itch intensity. For a test-retest observation period of one week, SPT-delivered histamine and application of cowhage-spiculae are reproducible human models of itch. The high inter-individual and low intra-individual variability suggests cross-over designed studies when applicable.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Dermato-Venereologica
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)198-207
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2017


  • Histamine/adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Mucuna
  • Plant Components, Aerial/adverse effects
  • Pruritus/etiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Visual Analog Scale
  • Young Adult


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