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Cephalalgia. 2000 Dec;20(10):907-18.

Nitric oxide metabolites, prostaglandins and trigeminal vasoactive peptides in internal jugular vein blood during spontaneous migraine attacks.

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Interuniversity Centre for the Study of Headache and Neurotransmitter Disorders, University of Perugia, Italy.


Despite evidence emerging from the experimental model of nitroglycerin-induced headache, the endogenous increase in nitric oxide (NO) production during migraine attacks is only speculative. It has been hypothesized that there is a close relationship between activation of the L-arginine/NO pathway and production of certain vasoactive and algogenic prostaglandins during spontaneous migraine attacks, but this suggestion also needs to be confirmed. In the present study the levels of nitrites, the stable metabolites of NO, were determined with high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) in the internal jugular venous blood of five patients affected by migraine without aura examined ictally. These samples were taken within 30 min, 1, 2, and 4 h from the onset of the attack and at the end of the ictal period. At the same time, the plasma levels of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), neurokinin A (NKA), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and 6 keto PGF1alpha, the stable product of PGI2, were assessed with radioimmunoassay (RIA) kits in the same samples. The levels of the intracellular messengers, cGMP and cAMP, were also measured with the RIA method. Nitrite, cGMP, CGRP and NKA levels reached their highest values at the first hour, then they tended to decrease progressively and returned, after the end of attacks, to values similar or below those detected at the time of catheter insertion (ANOVA, statistical significance: P<0.001; P<<0.002; P<0.002; P<0.003, respectively). PGE2 and 6 keto PGF1alpha, as well as cAMP levels also significantly increased at the first hour but reached a peak at the 2nd hour and remained in the same range until the 4th and 6th hours. Then their values tended to decrease after the end of attacks, becoming lower than those measured immediately after catheter positioning for internal jugular venous blood drawing (ANOVA: P<0.002, P<0.004, P<0.001, respectively). Our results support early activation of the L-arginine/NO pathway which accompanies the release of vasoactive peptides from trigeminal endings and a late rise in the synthesis of prostanoids with algogenic and vasoactive properties which may intervene in maintaining the headache phase.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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