Serum IL-31 Linked to Itching in Hemodialysis Patients Interview wth:
Mei-Ju Ko, MD, PhD
Department of Dermatology, Taipei City Hospital
Department of Dermatology, National Taiwan University Hospital and National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan.

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Ko: In this study, not only did we find that serum levels of interleukin (IL)-31 were significantly higher in hemodialysis patients with pruritus symptoms, but we also demonstrated a positive exposure-response relationship between IL-31 levels and visual analog scale (VAS) scores of pruritus intensity. We also noted an inverse correlation between the severity of pruritus and the dialysis dose assessed by Kt/V.

Medical Research: What was most surprising about the results?

Dr. Ko: Patients with uremic pruritus commonly complain of severe itching even in the absence of primary skin eruption, with the clinical presentation distinct from other IL-31 associated inflammatory skin diseases, such as atopic dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. This suggests an extended role of IL-31 in pruritic skin disease.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Ko: A positive exposure-response relationship between serum IL-31 and pruritus intensity was found in hemodialysis patients. The report also provided foundations for novel targets for the development of antipruritic drugs for uremic pruritus.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Ko: As with any cross-sectional study, the study cannot establish the causality and temporality between serum levels of IL-31 and uremic pruritus. Whether a cause-effect relationship exists between IL-31 and uremic pruritus deserves future investigation. Moreover, the generalizability of our findings to patients with peritoneal dialysis or chronic kidney disease requires additional studies.


Interleukin-31 is associated with uremic pruritus in patients receiving hemodialysisKo, Mei-Ju et al.
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology


Last Updated on September 30, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD