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Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2005 Jul;49(1):65-76.

The role of mast cells in migraine pathophysiology.

Author information

1
Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts-New England Medical Center, 136 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02111, USA. theoharis.theoharides@tufts.edu

Abstract

Mast cells are critical players in allergic reactions, but they have also been shown to be important in immunity and recently also in inflammatory diseases, especially asthma. Migraines are episodic, typically unilateral, throbbing headaches that occur more frequently in patients with allergy and asthma implying involvement of meningeal and/or brain mast cells. These mast cells are located perivascularly, in close association with neurons especially in the dura, where they can be activated following trigeminal nerve, as well as cervical or sphenopalatine ganglion stimulation. Neuropeptides such as calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), hemokinin A, neurotensin (NT), pituitary adenylate cyclase activating peptide (PACAP), and substance P (SP) activate mast cells leading to secretion of vasoactive, pro-inflammatory, and neurosensitizing mediators, thereby contributing to migraine pathogenesis. Brain mast cells can also secrete pro-inflammatory and vasodilatory molecules such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), selectively in response to corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), a mediator of stress which is known to precipitate or exacerbate migraines. A better understanding of brain mast cell activation in migraines would be useful and could lead to several points of prophylactic intervention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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