Skip to comments.Migraines triggered by protein deep in the brain
Posted on 10/15/2015 3:35:58 PM PDT by moose07
It can start with flashing lights, a tingling sensation and a feeling of unease, followed by excruciating pain. Migraines can be triggered by lack of food or too much stress but their underlying cause has remained a mystery. Now researchers have found that a migraine may be triggered by a protein deep in the brain that stimulates the neurons controlling facial sensations.
The discovery creates a potential new target for safer migraine medicines and adds weight to the theory that neurons, not blood vessels, are responsible for migraine attacks.
Where a migraine starts is a key question, says Debbie Hay at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. There has been a great deal of debate around the mechanisms of migraine. If we can pin this down, we may have better chances of preventing it.
To investigate, Simon Akerman at New York University and Peter Goadsby at Kings College London, UK, studied two neuropeptides released by neurons thought to play a role in the pain associated with migraine.
These protein-like molecules, called VIP and PACAP, first raised suspicion after they were found to be elevated in blood drained from the brains of people having a migraine attack. When researchers administered these peptides to volunteers, they found that they could cause a headache or migraine about two hours later.
Both peptides widen blood vessels, which was thought to be significant in migraine. In fact, the only drugs specifically developed for migraine that are in use today triptans were designed to shrink blood vessels in the brain. As a result, they cannot be used by people with cardiovascular disorders.
The root of the problem
Akerman and Goadsby studied the effects of VIP and PACAP on a set of neurons that innervate the head and face, which are known to trigger a headache. The pair measured the electrical activity of these neurons in anaesthetised rats and studied blood vessels in the rodents brain to identify when they dilated or constricted.
Some rats were then given PACAP, while others were treated with VIP. Only PACAP caused the neurons to increase their activity about an hour and a half after it was administered. This suggests that the peptide is responsible for kick-starting a migraine, says Akerman.
To block the effect, Akerman and Goadsby used molecules that block the receptors that PACAP binds to. The drugs made no difference when they were given to the rats intravenously, but when they were injected directly into the brain, the neurons responsible for a headache no longer surged with activity. These receptors could genuinely represent a new therapeutic target for migraine, says Akerman.
It appears that these receptors are indeed important, and this is definitely vital to helping us understand migraine and for developing new treatments, says Hay, who wasnt involved with the work. The receptors are a new and exciting target for migraine.
In need of relief
New therapies are desperately needed. Triptans dont work for half the people who try them, says Akerman. At any rate, their development was based on a misunderstanding of how migraine works.
In their study, Akermand and Goadsby found that both VIP and PACAP caused blood vessels to dilate, but that this effect only lasted for about 10 minutes. And in the case of PACAP, the widening of blood vessels did not happen at the same time as the overactivity of neurons. In other words, the dilation of blood vessels doesnt seem to have anything to do with migraine.
Although triptans are prescribed as vasoconstrictors drugs that shrink blood vessels other research suggests that they also block the release of peptides like PACAP from neurons. Why this is only effective in half the people who take the drug is still a mystery.
Whats clear, is that vasoconstriction does not help migraine, says Akerman. Triptans are effective, but for the wrong reasons.
This any use to you? :)
It is of use to me!! Thanks!
Triptans don’t work for me. My migraines may be of a different variety though.. from several severe closed head injuries. However, a frozen bag of peas/or frozen wash cloth placed in the eye orbits and around the temples do help a bit. And sunglasses... I’m NEVER without sunglasses.
Migraines are horrendous and often friends, employers and family do not understand how debilitating they are.
It’s not a “take 2 aspirins” and your back on your feet in 30 minutes.
They are there for a minimum of 24 hours (sometimes days) and then when they do go away, you are left with that punched out migraine hangover.
Dulled, tired, and behind at work.
The treatments are too extreme for most people. I never took meds for them. I hope they can find a way to help people who suffer from migraine.
“you are left with that punched out migraine hangover.”
Ung, I know it well.
Walking around in a daze feeling like death-warmed-up.
..in fear that it’s going to come back, and it doesn’t take much either.
Hmmm , worth remembering. :)
I get ocular migraines but fortunately I don’t get headaches. I do get to see some interesting light shows tho.
My Daughter used to get them and nothing really helped. She somehow outgrew them.
I’ve kept several bags in my freezer for years. Press the bags firmly into the temple area and the orbits of your eyes. Not sure why it helps but it does for me.
Do you have any form of medication to relieve that?
Thankfully I only get the occasional zigzag.
There is a lot of variation between people. I used to get terrible headaches with nausea. Then for ten years or so nothing. For the last few years I get the auras every few months but no headaches.
Yes. Thank you. I get about 6 to 12 a year. Almost always start with the visual aura. Exedrin for migraines has been working just okay for me. Was taking Relpax, but it’s very expensive and leaves me very light sensitive for two or three days after. So I quit the Relpax.
I get them around once ever 3 or 4 months. My eye Dr. did not seem to be concerned about them.
I see those zigzag patterns too along with purple and yellow starbursts.
I take immetrex....works great and within 20 mins......have to take it before I start getting sick to my stomach. It opens the blood vessels up (I think)only issue is sometimes it gives me a rebound headache
I’ve been suffering with `cluster headaches’ (which seem to be a mostly male affliction, with migraines the ladies’ affliction) since last February. I smoked for years and my Dad suffered with them also. Three `lucky’ sufferers out of every thousand people, so I’m told.
Ice packs, Naproxin sodium (Ibuprofin), aspirin and acetamenophen, scalp massager give some relief ... but the only thing that really seems to knock one out is 50 mg of sumatriptan, and if taken soon enough after the onset of the attack. Zomig (zomiltriptan) works too but is more expensive.
Anyone with a bad insurance plan might try one of the Canadian pharmacies.
Some of the stuff I’ve read calls them “suicide headaches” because men suffering them have stated they would rather be dead. But not me: first of the year/at the onset I would just projectile vomit, bang my head against a wall and weep with pain ....
All right them.
I am also using a home oxygen condenser but again, it seems to aid the triptans while not giving much real stand-alone relief.
My doctors think I was using too many and cut back on my prescription. They seem timid about prescribing them, although the instructions say the risk of stroke is very slight.
The aches seem to come and go for 2-4 day periods every week, and lately have just been constant low-grade aching with occasional severe pain.
After a rough 2015 the headaches seem to finally be relenting. Maybe I’m close to being out of the woods.
Any thoughts or questions, feel free/I would appreciate hearing. I wouldn’t wish these headaches on my worst enemy.
Yes, and even our own migraines vary from each other.
Whole head, one side, shooting through the eyes.
Sometimes I could tolerate cold gel pack and sometime (most of the time) heated gel pack.
I used to get a purplish aura but those didn’t last and weren’t profound.
Worst things to smell with a migraine?
Gasoline, car exhaust, solvents, perfume, and cheap chocolate bars.
Lazyboy type recliner is a must for those with migraines because laying flat down isn’t an option.
I had a book on migraines and it said there were 3 types: Vascular, Cluster and I can’t remember the 3rd.
Kill everyone in sight?
Thanks for that, I’m glad you’ve found something that gives some relief.
LOL ...only the ones microwaving popcorn and burning it...
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