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Cephalalgia. 2010 Apr;30(4):486-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2982.2009.01964.x. Epub 2010 Feb 11.

Increased nitric oxide stress is associated with migraine.

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Clinical Institute of Medical and Chemical Laboratory Diagnostics, Graz, Austria.


Nitric oxide (NO) has been implicated in migraine attacks, but the role of NO in migraine remains unclear. We here hypothesize that increased NO in the headache-free period is associated with migraine. One hundred and thirty probands participated in this study. Various parameters of the NO pathway, such as nitrate, nitrite, arginine, citrulline, nitrosylated proteins, asymmetric dimethylarginine, symmetrical dimethylarginine, expression of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and inducible nitric oxide synthase and two polymorphisms of eNOS were investigated. We found significant increased nitrate and decreased nitrite levels in migraineurs in the headache-free period. Nitrate and nitrite levels showed a significant inverse correlation. Logistic regression revealed an odds ratio of 3.6 for migraine. Other parameters of the NO pathway were neither altered in migraineurs nor correlated with nitrate. We show here that migraine patients suffer under sustained increased nitrosative stress in the headache-free period, which is associated with a 3.6-fold higher risk for migraine.

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