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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2007 Jan;320(1):64-71. Epub 2006 Oct 3.

Cannabinoid (CB1) receptor activation inhibits trigeminovascular neurons.

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Headache Group, Institute of Neurology and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London, United Kingdom.


Migraine is a common and disabling neurological disorder that involves activation or the perception of activation of the trigeminovascular system. Cannabinoid (CB) receptors are present in brain and have been suggested to be antinociceptive. Here we determined the effect of cannabinoid receptor activation on neurons with trigeminovascular nociceptive input in the rat. Neurons in the trigeminocervical complex (TCC) were studied using extracellular electrophysiological techniques. Responses to both dural electrical stimulation and cutaneous facial receptive field activation of the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve and the effect of cannabinoid agonists and antagonists were studied. Nonselective CB receptor activation with R(+)-[2,3-dihydro-5-methyl-3-[(morpholinyl)methyl]pyrrolo[1,2, 3-de]-1,4-benzoxazin-yl]-(1-naphthalenyl) (WIN55,212; 1 mg kg(-1)) inhibited neuronal responses to A-(by 52%) and C-fiber (by 44%) afferents, an effect blocked by the CB(1) receptor antagonist SR141716 [N-(piperidin-1-yl)-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-1-(2,4-dichlorophenyl)-4-methyl-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxamide; 3 mg kg(-1)] but not the CB2 receptor antagonist AM630 (6-iodopravadoline; 3 mg kg(-1)). Anandamide (10 mg kg(-1)) was able to inhibit both A- and C-fiber-elicited TCC firing, only after transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 receptor inhibition. Activation of cannabinoid receptors had no effect on cutaneous receptive fields when recorded from TCC neurons. The data show that manipulation of CB1 receptors can affect the responses of trigeminal neurons with A- and C-fiber inputs from the dura mater. This may be a direct effect on neurons in the TCC itself or an effect in discrete areas of the brain that innervate these neurons. The data suggest that CB receptors may have therapeutic potential in migraine, cluster headache, or other primary headaches, although the potential hazards of psychoactive side effects that accompany cannabinoid treatments may be complex to overcome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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