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J Anat. 2001 Jan;198(Pt 1):29-35.

Fos expression in the midbrain periaqueductal grey after trigeminovascular stimulation.

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Department of Clinical Neurology, Institute of Neurology, London, UK.


There is an accumulating body of evidence suggesting that the periaqueductal grey (PAG) is involved in the pathophysiology of migraine. Positron emission tomography (PET) studies in humans have shown that the caudal ventrolateral midbrain, encompassing the ventrolateral PAG, has activations during migraine attacks. The PAG may well be involved not only through the descending modulation of nociceptive afferent information, but also by its ascending projections to the pain processing centres of the thalamus. In this study the intranuclear oncogene protein Fos was used to mark cell activation in the PAG following stimulation of the trigeminally-innervated superior sagittal sinus (SSS) in both cats and in nonhuman primates (Macaca nemestrina). Fos expression in the PAG increased following stimulation to a median of 242 cells (interquartile range 236-272) in the cat and 155 cells (range 104-203) in the monkey, compared with control levels of 35 cells (21-50) and 26 cells (18-33), respectively. Activation was predominantly in the ventrolateral area of the caudal PAG suggesting that the PAG is involved following trigeminally-evoked craniovascular pain.

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