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Eur Neurol. 1991;31(5):282-90.

Preclinical studies on the anti-migraine drug, sumatriptan.

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Research Division, Glaxo Group Research Ltd, Ware, UK.


Sumatriptan is believed to constrict selectively the cranial vessels that are distended and inflamed during migraine. The action is mediated by activation of a 5-HT1 receptor subtype which has been shown in animals to be localized in cranial vessels. Further studies to elaborate sumatriptan's precise clinical mode of action have focused on the human meningeal circulation and should lead to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of migraine. Administering [14C]sumatriptan, drug-related material was shown to be well absorbed. Following absorption there was some first-pass metabolism resulting in oral bioavailabilities of 37, 58 and 23% in rat, dog and rabbit, respectively. In all species, circulating sumatriptan was cleared rapidly by metabolic and renal clearance with a half-life of 1-2 h. The indoleacetic acid metabolite is the primary metabolic product; however, rats, mice and rabbits also N-demethylate the methylaminosulphonylmethyl side-chain. The passage of sumatriptan and its metabolites across the blood-brain barrier appeared to be very limited, although some drug could be detected in the cerebrospinal fluid after administration of high intravenous doses. Safety studies in various animal species showed that sumatriptan produced few adverse pharmacodynamic effects when administered acutely, except at high doses, although it was less well tolerated in dogs. No findings of toxicological significance were observed in rats and dogs after chronic dosing for 1 year or more.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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