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J Pain. 2013 Nov;14(11):1289-303. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2013.03.010. Epub 2013 Aug 17.

Differentiation of nerve fibers storing CGRP and CGRP receptors in the peripheral trigeminovascular system.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Experimental Vascular Research, Lund University, Lund, Sweden. Electronic address:


Primary headaches such as migraine are postulated to involve the activation of sensory trigeminal pain neurons that innervate intracranial blood vessels and the dura mater. It is suggested that local activation of these sensory nerves may involve dural mast cells as one factor in local inflammation, causing sensitization of meningeal nociceptors. Immunofluorescence was used to study the detailed distribution of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and its receptor components calcitonin receptor-like receptor (CLR) and receptor activity-modifying protein 1 (RAMP1) in whole-mount rat dura mater and in human dural vessels. The relative distributions of CGRP, CLR, and RAMP1 were evaluated with respect to each other and in relationship to mast cells, myelin, substance P, neuronal nitric oxide synthase, pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide, and vasoactive intestinal peptide. CGRP expression was found in thin unmyelinated fibers, whereas CLR and RAMP1 were expressed in thicker myelinated fibers coexpressed with an A-fiber marker. CLR and RAMP1 immunoreactivity colocalized with mast cell tryptase in rodent; however, expression of both receptor components was not observed in human mast cells. Immunoreactive substance P fibers coexpressed CGRP, although neuronal nitric oxide synthase and vasoactive intestinal peptide expression was very limited, and these fibers were distinct from the CGRP-positive fibers. Few pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide immunoreactive fibers occurred and some colocalized with CGRP.


This study demonstrates the detailed distribution of CGRP and its receptor in the dura mater. These data suggest that CGRP is expressed in C-fibers and may act on A-fibers, rodent mast cells, and vascular smooth muscle cells that express the CGRP receptor. These sites represent potential pathophysiological targets of novel antimigraine agents such as the newly developed CGRP receptor antagonists.

Copyright © 2013 American Pain Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Migraine; calcitonin gene–related peptide (CGRP); calcitonin receptor–like receptor (CLR); dura mater; mast cells; receptor activity–modifying protein 1 (RAMP1)

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